Is the Accelerated Patent Process Right for You?
For those innovators who might not be able to hold out for a two year patent process, the government offers an accelerated patent process. As of August 2006 the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has offered potential patent holders an accelerated examination program that could cut wait times by up to 75 percent. While this program provides a faster patent, the application process requires the applicant to be more specific and accurate about their invention.
The first patent granted under this new government program was to Brother International, Ltd. for a printer ink gauge. The application was submitted September 29, 2006 and the patent issued only six months later on March 13, 2007. This was a quarter of the time usually required to receive a patent.
Accelerated Patent Process Benefits
Jon Dudas, Undersecretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property, said that accelerated examination allows innovators in any technology a patent review and decision within 12 months. In return for a faster patent decision, the agency expects the applicant to provide a better application and process, Dudas said.
This should be no problem for those with truly innovative ideas and a drive to get results relatively quickly.
According to a press release from the USPTO, “Any invention that is new, useful, non-obvious, and which is accompanied by a written description disclosing how to make and use it can be patented.” This is no new news to inventors. Where the requirements differ slightly is that those seeking patents must prove that their idea is new and non-obvious (known as “prior art”) in the accelerated examination application, the press release said.
In the standard patent process, inventors are only required to provide prior art related to their idea of which they are aware. The USPTO would then do their own search and identify any prior art that would make the invention not patentable. In the accelerated patent process program, inventors are required to search and provide reference to all prior art with their application. They also must explain what the prior art taught them and why their invention is different. This significantly speeds up the patent issuing process for the USPTO.
Are the Benefits Worth It?
Ultimately, the choice one makes about whether or not to use the accelerated patent process depends on the amount of time and work the inventor is willing to put in to applying. An extremely thorough application is required, as is a better description of the invention and prior, related inventions. While the process might seem lengthy and overwhelming for some, others might consider it a great opportunity to get a quality patent in less time.
Those considering the accelerated examination program to pursue their patent should definitely research the procedure to ensure that it is right for them. The USPTO web site has official guidelines and applications available to those interested.