Today, May 8, 2020, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (US PTO) announced a new COVID-19 Prioritized Examination Pilot Program. The new pilot program provides an expedited prosecution of COVID-19-related patent applications for applicants that meet the requirements for small or micro entity status. Currently, the pilot program will be limited to the first 500 requests.

As outlined in the Federal Register Notice, to qualify for the new program the following conditions must be met:

  • The applicant must qualify for small or micro entity status;
  • The patent application must cover a product or process that is subject to U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for use in the prevention and/or treatment of COVID-19;
  • The application must be a nonprovisional utility or plant application;
  • The application cannot claim priority to multiple nonprovisional applications; and
  • The application cannot contain more than 4 independent and 30 total claims.

If the application and applicant meet the requirements:

  • The US PTO will expedite prosecution with an intent to conclude examination within 1 year (12 months), possibly as fast as 6 months; and
  • Fees for prioritized examination will be waived (normally $1000 - $2000).

Aside from the requirements above, the process appears as though it will follow the current process for prioritized examination (Track 1) pursuant to 37 C.F.R. § 1.102(e).

The pilot program could provide a unique opportunity to expedite prosecution of COVID-19-related patent applications, without additional fees, for individual inventors, small businesses, non-profit organizations, universities or other institutions of higher education.

The pilot program will initially be limited to the first 500 requests, but may be expanded depending on US PTO resources, feedback from the public and the effectiveness of the program. Please reach out to our team if you are interested or if you have any questions regarding this new Pilot Program. Visit https://www.uspto.gov/initiatives/covid-19-prioritized-examination-pilot for more information about the program.


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