First-Time Filer Expedited Examination Pilot Program FAQs
Who may apply to the First-Time Filer Expedited Examination Pilot Program?
This pilot program is designed for inventors who have not previously been named as an inventor in a U.S. nonprovisional patent application. Applicants and inventors must qualify for micro entity status under the gross income basis requirement. Please see the program webpage at www.uspto.gov/FirstTimePatentFiler and the Federal Register Notice on the First-Time Filer Expedited Examination Pilot Program (88 FR 14607 (March 9, 2023) for a full explanation of the eligibility requirements.
Is there any fee to participate in this program?
No. There is no extra fee to participate in the program.
The fee for the petition under the program has been waived. However, you must still pay all other fees associated with filing the application, such as the basic filing, search, and examination fees, and an application size fee if required.
I have previously been named as an inventor on a U.S. design patent application, but I have never been named as an inventor on a U.S. nonprovisional utility application. Am I eligible for the pilot program?
No. A U.S. design application is a nonprovisional patent application. Therefore, you would not be considered a first-time filer under this pilot program because you were previously named as an inventor in a U.S. nonprovisional application. (See 37 CFR 1.9(a)(3) and section 201.01 of the Manual of Patent Examining Procedure).
When can I expect a first office action once my application has been granted special status under the program and docketed to a patent examiner?
Once placed on an examiner’s special docket, applications typically receive a first office action within 28 days.
A company or corporation will be listed as the applicant for my patent application. May I sign the Application Data Sheet (ADS) myself?
No, unless you are a registered patent practitioner. A registered patent practitioner must sign the ADS when someone other than a person (e.g., a company) is listed as the applicant. An improperly signed ADS may prevent other papers from being compliant, which results in an incomplete application.
If your patent application is not complete as of the date the petition to make special under this program is filed, your petition will be dismissed with no opportunity to correct the deficiency. Therefore, it is important to ensure that your ADS is properly signed and your application is complete prior to filing the petition.
For more information on the general requirements of an application, please see 37 CFR 1.51(b).
Do I have to use Patent Center to file the application and the petition under the pilot program?
Yes. You may not email, mail, or fax your patent application or petition. You must file the application and petition electronically using Patent Center.
I already filed my application via EFS-Web or by mail. Can I submit the entire application as a follow-on paper via Patent Center with the specification, claim(s), and abstract in DOCX format?
No. You must file your application electronically using Patent Center, and you must submit the specification, claim(s), and abstract in DOCX format when you file the application.
I already filed my application electronically via Patent Center, but the specification, claim(s), and abstract were not submitted in DOCX format. Can I submit these documents in DOCX format into the application I already filed?
No. You must submit the specification, claim(s), and abstract in DOCX format when you file the application.
Whom do I contact if I am having trouble submitting my application or petition electronically?
Can I have a patent attorney or agent?
Yes. Getting a patent can be a complex process, and the use of an experienced agent or attorney can help you navigate this process. Inventors and small businesses that meet certain financial thresholds and other criteria may be eligible for free legal assistance in preparing and filing a patent application through the Patent Pro Bono Program or the Law School Clinic Certification Program.
I do not have a patent attorney or agent. Where can I get help filing and prosecuting my application?
You must be reasonably trained on the basics of the USPTO’s patent application process before applying to the First-Time Filer Expedited Examination Pilot Program. You can find available patent application training resources on the pilot program’s webpage at www.uspto.gov/FirstTimePatentFiler.
If you are filing a patent application on your own, you can find helpful information in the legal resources section of the USPTO’s website. For help with filing your application using the USPTO’s Patent Electronic Systems, you may contact the Patent EBC at 866-217-9197 (during its operating hours of 6 a.m. to midnight ET, Monday-Friday) or firstname.lastname@example.org.