Expansion of prioritized examination
Blog by Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO Andrei Iancu, and Commissioner for Patents Drew Hirshfeld
Innovation and the protection of it are hallmarks of America’s competitive edge. To help businesses and innovators move through the patent process quickly so they can make informed decisions on developing and marketing more of their products and services, the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (AIA) established the Track One program. This program provides for the prioritized examination of patent applications.
The program works extremely well. As shown on our Patents Dashboard, the average pendency from filing a Track One request to a first office action has been 3.0 months in fiscal year 2019. Customers who took advantage of the program during the same period received, on average, final disposition within 7.8 months. For businesses and inventors who need to have their applications examined quickly, the Track One program offers a great solution.
The AIA originally stipulated that the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) could not grant more than 10,000 requests for Track One prioritized examinations in any fiscal year. To meet the needs of our stakeholders, we recently issued regulations to increase the number of Track One requests that we could grant. Effective September 3, we increased the limit to 12,000 each fiscal year, as detailed in our Federal Register Notice.
Shortly after issuing that notice, the USPTO granted its 10,000th Track One request for fiscal year 2019 and continued processing additional requests throughout the remainder of the fiscal year. The higher limit provides the opportunity for more interested stakeholders to participate in, and benefit from, prioritized examination in the cases they deem appropriate. With respect to the Patent Office as a whole, as we recently announced, the USPTO improved overall pendency to an average of 14.7 months for first office actions and 23.8 months total. This program allows even faster action in cases applicants select based on their own needs.
Applicants have embraced the Track One program due to the speed with which the applications are handled and the high-quality examinations that they receive. The USPTO remains committed to meeting the needs of our applicants through innovative programs such as this, and will continue its work to improve the experience of those who come before us.