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“Three Track” Initiative Proposal

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The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USTPO) is requesting comments and input from the general public about a potential multi-track examination initiative.  The proposed “Three Track” initiative will give applicants better control over their examination process while increasing efficiency in the Patent Office.   The proposed “Three Track” initiative would classify examination tracks in three categories.  An applicant may request:

Track I:  prioritized examination (which would require an associated fee in addition to the filing fee)

Track II:  traditional examination under the current procedures

Track III:  for non-continuing applications first filed in the USPTO, an applicant-controlled delay for up to 30 months prior to docketing for examination (applicant must request examination and pay examination fee within 30 months of filing)

By giving applicants better control over the timing of examination, the proposed initiative will decrease pendency and allow the USPTO to employ its resources more efficiently. Specifically, one thing the initiative could change is how applications which are based on foreign priority are examined.

“For applications filed in the USPTO that are based on a prior foreign-filed application, no action would be taken by the USPTO until the agency receives a copy of the search report, if any, and first office action from the foreign office as well as an appropriate reply to the foreign office action as if the foreign office action was made in the application filed in the USPTO.  Following or concurrent with the submission of the foreign office action and reply, the applicant may request prioritized examination or obtain processing under the current procedure. This proposal would increase the efficiency of the examination of these applications by avoiding or reducing duplication of efforts by the office of first filing and the USPTO.”

The USPTO is holding a public meeting on July 20, 2010 at 1:30 p.m. at the USPTO’s Madison building, 600 Dulany Street, Alexandria, Virginia. Please see the USPTO press release for more information about submitting comments and attending the general meeting: http://www.uspto.gov/news/pr/2010/10_24.jsp

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