USPTO’s Council for Inclusive Innovation launches new initiative to expedite patent applications of first-time filers

Press Release

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Paul Fucito or Mandy Kraft
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WASHINGTON—To incentivize more innovation from communities all across America, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) today announced the Council for Inclusive Innovation (CI2) First-Time Filer Expedited Examination Pilot Program. The new initiative benefits individuals or small businesses qualifying as a “micro entity“ who are first-time filers for patent rights, including those from groups that are underrepresented in the innovation space, by providing expedited initial feedback from the agency on their application, also known as “first office action.” Read the full Federal Register Notice announcing the pilot program.

“This new initiative is another way we are working through our Council for Inclusive Innovation to lift independent inventors and small business owners—including those from underrepresented communities—who are new to the patent process and provide them with resources and assistance they need to protect patentable innovations,” said Kathi Vidal, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO. “By accelerating the examination process, it is our hope that expedited feedback from the agency’s initial review of the application will allow them to make key business decisions at an earlier stage as we work together to bring more innovation to impact.”

The USPTO receives approximately 40,000 patent applications per year naming at least one first-time filing inventor. For the smaller subset of first-time filers, wait times for the patent application process may act as a barrier to commercialization, especially for those in underserved geographic and economic areas, women, people of color, and veterans. For patentable innovations, expediting examination can get them to market more rapidly than average. This pilot program requires participants to be reasonably trained in the patent application process to more effectively engage with the USPTO and maximize the benefit of expedited examination. The pilot program website provides a collection of free training resources for applicants to use to meet the requirement.

The first-time filer initiative will accept up to 1,000 petitions for expedited examination. This initiative supplements the USPTO’s other expedited examination programs, including those supporting COVID, cancer immunotherapy, and climate change mitigation, and offers another example of USPTO’s efforts to create an equitable and inclusive innovation ecosystem. For a full listing of options, visit the initiatives page of the USPTO website.

Born out of a recommendation in the USPTO's 2018 SUCCESS Act study and report transmitted to Congress in 2019, the Council for Inclusive Innovation (CI2) is charged with strategizing new ways to expand American innovation by tapping into the strength of our nation’s diversity and increasing the opportunities for all Americans to participate in innovation. Additional CI2 initiatives, including innovation internships, a community outreach campaign, and the expansion of pro bono services were announced in July 2022 as part the Council’s outreach efforts.

The Council’s mission is assisting the USPTO in developing a comprehensive national strategy and reference guide for increasing participation in our innovation ecosystem by encouraging, empowering, and supporting all innovators. The CI2 First-Time Filer Expedited Examination Petition will work in conjunction with other CI2 and USPTO initiatives to advance the mission of the Council and the USPTO.

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