26 May 2010

USPTO Announced Program Changes for More Streamlined and Focussed Examination

The USPTO has announced a number of program changes in order to further streamline its processes, reduce the backlog and focus on important technologies:
  • The "Project Exchange" is expanded from small entities to all applicants (press release). That is, any applicant with multiple pending applications filed prior to October 1, 2009 may receive expedited review of one application in exchange for withdrawing an unexamined application. By this the USPTO wants to provide applicants with greater control over the order in which their applications are examined and, probably even more important, reduce its backlog. The program will be limited to 15 applications per entity. The change will take effect in the next weks with publication of Federal Register notice and applicants must submit the required materials prior to December 31, 2010 to participate (see this link).
  • The 130$ petition fee for participation in the Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) program are eliminated in order to encourage greater PPH participation by patent applicants (see this link).
  • The Green Tech Acceleration program, which was designed to promote development of green technologies, is expanded to allow more categories of technology to be elligible for expedited examination. Under the Green Tech program applicants may file a petition to receive special status for pending patent application in green technologies. The classification requirement, according to which the program was limited to certain classifications only, has now been removed. However, this program is limited to the first 3000 granted petitions (see this link).