Sensitive to the time delays experienced in prosecuting patent applications through the USPTO, the Patent Office has tried various methods to accelerate the process. For example priority is given for certain medical applications, environmental solutions and the advanced age of the inventor.
The USPTO still maintains the program for accelerated examination wherein a definitive action on patentability is to be granted within 12 months of filing the application. The program required a thorough prior art search be conducted by the applicant. The method of the search is detailed in the Accelerated Examination Support Document filed by the Applicant. Also a summary of each prior art reference is provided by the Applicant in the Accelerated Examination Support Document. The summary considers each prior art reference in comparison to each claim of the patent application. The Applicant is limited to 20 claims and 3 independent claims. The Petition for Accelerated Examination involved a detailed pre-exam inspection. The Applicant is granted a single 30 day period to correct any deficiencies in the Petition or Accelerated Examination Support Document.
The USPTO has established an additional program for prioritized examination under 37 CFR 1.102 and discussed under MPEP 708.02(b). This program requires payment of a $2,000.00 surcharge for a small entity, plus the normal filing fee (currently $730.00 for 3 independent claim and 20 total claims). It is intended that a definitive decision be made on patentability within 12 months. Note the program allows prioritized examination to also be requested when filing a Request for Continued Examination. An approved application is place on a special docket. The Applicant is entitled to have 30 total claims and 4 independent claims. (Of course these extra claims entail payment of additional filing fees.)
Note all required fees and filing documents are required to be present on filing. For example the Declaration or Oath of Inventor must be supplied. The application must be electronically filed. There is no provision for curing any deficiencies in the filing papers. For example, if the name of the inventor supplied in the oath or declaration is not identical to the inventor’s name listed in the Application Data Sheet, the request for prioritized examination will be declined. Similarly, any deficiency in compliance with the formal requirements of the drawings, however minor, will be grounds for declination.