May 1, 2011

USPTO, Budget Cuts: Track 1 Accelerated Examination of Patent Applications and Other Programs Become Victims

Dr. Hava Caner Ercegovic, Patent Attorney
Dr. Hava Caner Ercegovic

Patent Attorney

Reinhold Cohn & Partners
Dr. Ilan Cohn (Former Partner), Senior Partner
Dr. Ilan Cohn (Former Partner)

Senior Partner

Reinhold Cohn & Partners

Owing to significant USPTO budget cuts, many activities have been halted including entry into force of the recently announced Track 1 accelerated examination process. The budget cuts will affect the overall function of the USPTO.

In our newsletter of March 2011 we reported the implementation of a Track 1 accelerated examination process of patent applications that should have been initiated as of 4 May 2011. In a recent announcement by the USPTO, the implementation of fast track patent processing has been delayed indefinitely.

In line with budgetary cuts affecting the US Government, imposed by the recent budget agreement between President Obama and the US Congress, the USPTO is required to cut about US$100 million, which represents more than 10% of the Office’s budget for the fiscal year 2011. It is interesting to note that this cut in fact reflects the appropriation of about US$85-100M in fees that were to be collected by the USPTO for other Government activities.

One of the casualties of the budget cuts is the indefinite postponement of the Track 1 accelerated procedure.

The USPTO has also announced significant cuts in money allocated for PCT-related searches. Consequently, it can be expected that the duration of time in which to receive a search report from the USPTO, where it is designated as the Searching and Examining Authority of a PCT application, will increase dramatically and the quality will further deteriorate.

The USPTO has also put a freeze on all new hiring and a ban on overtime. This too will likely, slow the rate of examination of patent applications at the USPTO and probably also result in lessening quality of the examination.

Time will tell where this all will lead to.

This article is provided for general information only. It is not intended as legal advice or opinion and cannot be relied upon as such. Advice on specific matters may be provided by our group’s attorneys.

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