In the age of rapid testing & quick growth, where the company that is “first to market” tends to win, it is increasingly important for businesses to build a strong patent portfolio. However, as is often the case, this is easier said than done, with applicants now finding themselves waiting years for their applications to be granted or even examined. In fact, according to the USPTO Data Visualization Center, the average time to for a patent to be granted is 22.9 months. The more “popular” the technology the patent covers, the longer the wait can be.
The cause of the delay is an ever-increasing number of US patent applications being filed, which has created a backlog. At the time of writing, there are 602,777 unexamined patent applications.
Given the above, expediting a patent application through the USPTO is increasingly desirable for companies seeking to strengthen & grow their patent portfolio. The USPTO has a number of mechanisms that allow applicants to fast-track patent examination. One such mechanism is the Petition to Make Special.
Petition to Make Special
Applications can be made “special” and examination can be fast-tracked the where the Applicant is at least 65 years old or has poor health.
A petition and evidence must be filed showing that:
(i) the state of health of the inventor is such that he or she might not be available to assist in the prosecution of the application if it were to run its normal course, such as a doctor’s certificate or other medical certificate.
(ii) the applicant is 65 years of age or more.
There is no additional fee required should the application be expedited based on age or health.
It is worth noting that international applications that have not entered the national stage, design applications, provisional applications, reissue applications or re-examination proceedings cannot make their application “special” and expedite examination this way.
Applicants who make their application “special” by age or health typically receive an Office Action within 6-7 months of filing. From there, there are multiple options regarding how to reply. At Fresh, we have found examiner interviews to be invaluable and you can read about this in more detail here.