I had recently written about a proposed “Track One” Accelerated Examination program at the USPTO designed to reduce the pendency time for applications to 12 months. Currently, average pendency time for an application in the USPTO is about 35 months, so Track One should provide applicants with a significantly quicker decision.
Earlier this week, the USPTO announced that the Track One program will launch on May 4, 2011. According to Director David Kappos, “Track One provides a comprehensive, flexible patent application processing model to our nation’s innovators, offering different processing options that are more responsive to the real-world needs of our applicants. The Three-Track program will bring the most important new products and services to market more quickly, helping to build businesses and create new jobs in America.”
To request examination under Track One, applicants pay a fee of $4000.00 in addition to the normal filing fees. Participation in Track One will be limited to 10,000 applications until September 30, 2011, at which point the program will be reevaluated.
Track One, in addition to standard examination (Track Two) and delayed examination (Track Three) allows applicants to customize the course of their application through the USPTO. But whether inventors embrace these options and the anticipated benefits realized, or the Three Track system reveals itself as merely a “pay to play” scheme benefiting deep-pocketed applicants, remains to be seen.