June 8, 2020
The USPTO has launched a new Covid-19 Prioritized Examination Pilot Program to help small and micro entities. The USPTO will accept requests for prioritized examination of up to 500 qualifying patent applications without requiring payment of certain fees associated with prioritized examination. Under this pilot, the USPTO will advance out of turn certain patent applications related to COVID-19 for examination, resulting in their prioritized examination. The USPTO aims to provide final disposition of patent applications in the pilot in one year or less after it grants prioritized status.
Under the COVID-19 Prioritized Examination Pilot Program:
Any application that claims the benefit of the filing date of two or more previously filed non-provisional U.S. applications or international applications designating the United States under 35 U.S.C. 120, 121, or 365(c) is not eligible for participation in this pilot, but the applicant may request prioritized examination under 37 CFR 1.102(e).
Benefit claims to one or more prior provisional applications under 35 U.S.C. 119(e) or foreign priority claims under 35 U.S.C. 119(a)-(d) or (f) will not cause a non-provisional application to be ineligible for this pilot.
The goal of the Office is to provide a final disposition within 12 months, on average, of the date prioritized status was granted. The final disposition for the 12-month goal means that within 12 months from the date prioritized status is granted, one of the following will occur: (1) mailing of a notice of allowance; (2) mailing of a final Office action; (3) filing of a notice of appeal; (4) completion of examination as defined in 37 CFR 41.102; (5) filing of an RCE; or (6) abandonment of the application.
The mailing of a notice of allowance or a final Office action, or the filing of a Notice of Appeal, whichever is earlier, ends the prioritized status granted under the pilot program. In addition, the filing of an RCE for an application in the pilot program is a final disposition for purposes of the 12-month goal for the program. The application will not retain its special status after the filing of a proper RCE. Upon termination of prioritized examination status, the application will be removed from the examiner’s special docket and placed on the examiner’s regular docket in accordance with its stage of prosecution, as is the case with other applications undergoing prioritized examination.