Have you ever wondered if there is a way to get your patent application approved or examined faster?
You can usually expect to wait, on average, two years or more after filing a patent application, before the patent is approved. There are some recommendations on how to get your application moving faster that I will discuss below.
You can expedite your examination by using the United States Patent Office’s (USPTO) Prioritized Patent Examination Program. This is known as “Track One.” You would have to pay an extra fee for this program but this will let the application “jump the line” and be examined before patent applications that were filed earlier.
Another way to expedite your examination is by actually speaking with the examiner reviewing your application. Most communications between you and the examiner would occur in writing, which can be frustrating and inefficient. The examiner may want to explain in person some distinction between the invention and what existed before and sometimes it is better to do this over the phone or in person. The USPTO allows applicants to speak directly with the examiner via telephone, web conference or in-person interviews. Interviews can prove to be helpful because the examiner can associate a human face with the application. It could be valuable to have the inventor/applicant participate in the interview, if, for example, the technology is complex. Interviews that are conducted early in the process can help prevent misunderstandings that could result in a longer and more expensive patenting process. You could use the USPTO’s First Action Interview pilot program so the examiner could make an initial full evaluation of the application. This would give you the opportunity to influence the examiner’s understanding of the invention from the beginning.
Another way to expedite a patent is to the use the USPTO’s Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH). This would help to leverage positive results from an examination that has already been performed by a foreign patent office. Under this program, the USPTO fast-tracks the examination of U.S. patent application with claims that are already allowed by a foreign patent office. There are many foreign patent offices eligible for PPH review, including Canada, China, Europe, Japan, Korea and the United Kingdom. While the USPTO does still makes its own independent evaluation of the patent application, the PPH program can yield improved results over regular processing. This program can be a particularly effective tool for companies with foreign patenting activities that are looking to take advantage of their successes in foreign patent offices in order to quickly obtain the same scope of patent protection in the U.S.
In summary, few U.S. patent applicants would ever describe the patenting process as either quick or easy but by using one or more of the recommendations described above, applicants can possibly accelerate the process and increase their likelihood of achieving their patenting goals. If you are interested in having your patent move along faster, you could also discuss these options with an attorney.