The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) announced the COVID-19 Prioritized Examination Pilot Program on May 8, 2020. The program allows small and micro entities to apply for fast track patent examination for COVID-19-related applications. The program is an additional incentive from the government to incentivize the development of inventions to lessen the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Under this program, the USPTO will try to reach final decisions on applications within six months if applicants respond promptly to communications from the USPTO.
Beginning July 13, 2020, the program will accept up to 500 qualifying patent applications that will be exempted from prioritized examination fees. The pilot program is open to:
· Non-continuing, original, nonprovisional utility or plant patent applications filed with an acceptable request to participate.
· Original, nonprovisional utility or plant applications making a benefit claim under 35 U.S.C. 120, 121, or 365(c) to one prior nonprovisional application or one prior international application designating the United States filed with an acceptable request to participate.
· Utility or plant applications, including the national stage of a prior international application, in which an acceptable request to participate has been filed with or after a request for continued examination (RCE), if no prior RCE was granted prioritized examination status.
To qualify under this program:
· Applications must contain one or more claims to a product or process related to COVID-19.
· The claimed product or process must be subject to an applicable Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for COVID-19 use.
· The request must include a certification that the applicant qualifies for either small or micro entity status and an executed Application Data Sheet (ADS) meeting the requirements of 37 CFR 1.53(f)(3)(i).
· Applicants must file a grantable request under this initiative using the USPTO patent electronic filing system (EFS-Web or Patent Center) if filing the request in a utility application.
Similar to other prioritized examination, if an applicant files a petition for an extension of time to file a reply or a request for suspension of action, the prioritized examination of the application under the pilot program will be terminated, and the application will be examined under regular course. The USPTO may extend the pilot program (with or without modifications) or terminate it depending on the workload, resources, feedback from the public, and the effectiveness of the program.
Applicants should use Pilot Program Form PTO/SB/450 to request participation in the pilot. If you have any questions about participation in the COVID-19 pilot, or patenting in this area in general, please feel free to contact a Leber IP attorney.
Further information on the pilot program is available by accessing the following web links.