Speedy Patent Prosecution, Part One: Track One Prioritized Examination

The USPTO has a number of different programs to allow for speedier prosecution of patent applications. Each expedited prosecution path has their own qualifications, advantages, and disadvantages. This series of posts will cover some of these programs in detail. First up is Track One.

USPTO’s Track One prioritized examination is a special program for speedy examination of nonprovisional utility and plant patent applications. To be eligible, applications must have no more than four independent claims and 30 total claims, and must not have claims with multiple dependencies. The USPTO’s stated goal is to provide a final disposition within one year of granting prioritized status.

Prioritized examination is available for original applications and for requests for continued examination (RCE). Applicants may use form PTO/AIA/424 to apply for the prioritized examination.

The fee for this program is $4,000 for a non-small entity, $2,000 for a small entity, and $1,000 for a micro entity. A maximum of 10,000 requests for prioritized examination may be granted in each fiscal year. The USPTO posts statistics to its website showing the number granted so far in current and past fiscal years. In addition, EFS-Web, the USPTO’s electronic filing system, will disable the function to request prioritization when the limit is reached.

The fee for Track One prioritized examination is substantial, but in the context of an inventor’s overall budget for intellectual property protection, it is often affordable and worthwhile. Aside from the fee, there is no additional barrier to participating in the program beyond the preparation of the nonprovisional application.

Next, we will examine a speedy prosecution option with lower fees, but a greater preparatory burden.

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