Track One Prioritized Examination
Intellectual Property Law Firm Representing Clients in Patent, Trademark, Copyright, and Trade Secret Matters
Anytime I have worked as in-house counsel, I have made sure our companies hired Michael for all of our trademarks, patents, license agreements, and other intellectual property needs.
- Charles B.
USPTO Track One Patent Examination Attorney
The patent process is often complex, ripe with pitfalls, and is generally known to take a long period of time from the initial filing till issuance is finally received. In the US, a utility patent application takes approximately three years to issuance and sometimes longer. However, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) offers a variety of prioritized programs and some other options for expediting the application. Currently, one of the most well-known is the Track One Patent Examination.
Track One Prioritized Examination Basics
Track One Prioritized Examination is one of the most popular routes for expediting a patent application. Application through Track One is made as a “request” at the time of filing a utility or plant application and thrives to obtain a final disposition within twelve months. Continuation and RCE applications are also eligible for the program.
The current filing fees are $4,200, $1,680, or $840 respectively for large, small, or micro entities, in addition to a processing fee and the underlying normal application fees (see chart below).
Currently, the limit on the number of prioritized examination requests that the USPTO will accept in a fiscal year is 15,000. Track One is also limited to four independent claims and thirty dependent claims. Interestingly, 2016 data shows that Track One applications received a higher allowance rate than non-Track One applications (84.9% vs. 69.2%).
Track One is not for the faint of heart as the applicant must keep up with the fast pace otherwise Track One is terminated.
Prioritized examination under Track One is terminated if
- The applicant files a request for an extension of time to anything;
- Once a “final” office action is sent by the USPTO;
- The applicant requests an RCE;
- Applicant files an appeal; or
- Applicant amends the application to have in excess of 4 independent claims and 30 dependent claims.
Additionally, Track One is not an option for a US national phase entry (applications originally filed in a foreign country and later entering the US national phase with priority to the foreign filed application) or for reissue applications, original design applications, provisional applications, or reexamination proceedings. But as noted above, Track One requests can be made along with continuation applications and RCE applications.
Requirements For Track One
Interestingly, there is a limitation on the number of Track One petitions granted by the USPTO in any fiscal year, which is only 15,000. This number can be tracked on the USPTO’s dashboard for Track One examination statistics. Other requirements are as follows:
- Request for Track One petition must be submitted on the same day as the application filing. If a Track One petition is desired after the filing of the application, it can only be done by filing a continuation application along with the Track One petition plus all fees
- Specification, drawings, claims (no multiple-independent claims allowed, also no more than four independent claims and no more than thirty claims total)
- Inventors oath and application datasheet
- Underlying application fees
- Prioritized examination fees
- Processing fee
USPTO Fees for Track One Examination and Utility Patent Application as of January 2023
|Service||Micro Entity*||Small Entity||Large Entity|
|Utility Patent Application||$365||$664||$1,820|
|Petition for Prioritized Examination||$840||$1,680||$4,200|
|Total Fee (assuming no excess claim fees)||$1,235||$2,400||$6,160|
Additional Steps to Increase the Speed of Issuance
There are some other approaches that can be taken in order to speed up the examination process, such as Accelerated Examination, Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH), and even Expedited Examination for Design patent applications. The differences of these can be reviewed at the USPTO’s Patent Application Initiatives page. There are also some other informal ways such as simply contacting the examiner for a status request. Examiners are often inundated with patent applications. Requesting a status update can help prompt the examiner to review an application that they may have gotten to later.
Similarly, requests for interviews after receiving an office action can help the examiner if there are issues of ambiguity on either side. There is no fee for requesting an interview and are typically guaranteed after a non-final office action although at the discretion of the examiner after a final office action. Talking through the office action together with the examiner, if done correctly, can help streamline the issues to get closer to a notice of allowance.
Trademarks are a form of intellectual property rights for elements that identify a product or service’s source.
Patents help those who have developed an invention and seek to protect it.