The America Invents Act (AIA), which became law in September, 2011, finally established funding for the USPTO’s “Track One” prioritized patent examination procedure that had been announced in May of last year. However, the number of these applications will be limited to 10,000 per fiscal year – at least for the time being.
For eligible patent applications, the USPTO says it will issue final dispositions within 12 months of the filing date.
Applicants can request prioritized examination of an application for a fee of about $5,100 in addition to the regular filing, search, and examination fees. Small entities get a 50% discount on most government patent fees and micro entities get a 75% discount.
A “small” entity is a business with fewer than 500 employees, or a university or non-profit covered by Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
A “micro” entity is an independent investor with a gross income of less than three times the national median household income in the previous calendar year – about $150,000 – who has previously filed no more than four non-provisional patent applications. A micro entity also includes someone whose primary source of income comes from employment at an institution of higher education, or who has an obligation to assign the invention to such an institution.
To get Track One “special status,” a patent applicant must request the priority examination at the start of the filing process and must comply with certain requirements:
- File a new original utility or plant non-provisional application on or after September 26, 2011;
- File an application that is complete at the time of filing;
- File the application via the PTO’s electronic filing system;
- File an application with no more than four independent claims and thirty total claims or any multiple dependent claims;
- Request prioritized examination; and
- Pay the required fees for requesting prioritized examination at the time of filing.
More information is available here.
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