USPTO establishes new pre-application assessment program to help American inventors

Pre-prosecution pilot allows qualifying inventors to assess the strengths and weaknesses of potential patent applications

Today, the USPTO announced a new pre-application review program called the “Pre-Prosecution Pilot” as part of its continuing commitment to expand access to the innovation ecosystem and support underresourced inventors. 

The pilot program is designed to support first-time, prospective inventors by providing assistance in assessing the strengths and weaknesses of a potential patent application. USPTO examiners will help first-time prospective patent applicants assess if their invention is novel in the art by providing search assistance using public patent tools. 

Any assessment may not be considered an official ruling of patentability by the USPTO, but may help potential applicants avoid common mistakes that may slow down or invalidate the patent review process. 

“Inventors and entrepreneurs are the life blood of the American economy. From individual inventors working in their garages to major corporations, the USPTO is committed to fostering more innovation for and from all,” said Kathi Vidal, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO. “This new pilot program is another tool in our toolbox to provide a more welcoming and encouraging innovation ecosystem for independent inventors as they seek to protect and bring to market their ideas.” 

The first training under this new pilot program will be a two day workshop on February 27 and 28, 2024, conducted virtually and limited to 20 qualifying individuals. Selected individuals will participate in a combination of information sessions, practice time, and one-on-one feedback sessions with USPTO patent examiners. Topics will include patent application basics, patent public search tools (to assist with searching for prior art), legal counsel options such as USPTO’s Patent Pro Bono program, and additional programs to assist first-time filers. 

The USPTO is accepting candidates for this pilot program until January 31, 2024. Interested individuals are encouraged to complete the interest form on our website. More information on how to qualify to participate will be available in an upcoming Federal Register Notice.