The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has asked for comments on its proposal to fast-track patent applications relating to COVID-19 – a so-called Prioritized Examination Pilot Program (PEPP).
In a statement released on its website, the USPTO says that it is “implementing a pilot program to provide prioritized examination of certain patent applications. To qualify, the claim(s) of an application must cover a product or process related to COVID-19, and such product or process must be subject to an applicable FDA approval for COVID-19 use.
“Under this pilot program, the USPTO will grant qualified requests for prioritized examination without payment of certain fees associated with prioritized examination for applicants that qualify for small or micro entity status. The goal of prioritized examination is to provide a final disposition within 12 months, on average, from the date the prioritized status has been granted. Furthermore, the USPTO believes it can achieve final disposition in six months if applicants provide more timely responses to notices and actions from the USPTO, as compared to those required by prioritized examination.”
Interested parties have until 13 July 2020 to comment on the USPTO’s proposal, with the USPTO adding that it “will accept requests for prioritized examination beginning [13 July] until such time as the USPTO has accepted a total of 500 requests. The USPTO may extend the pilot program (with or without modifications) or terminate it depending on the workload and resources needed to administer the program, feedback from the public, and the effectiveness of the program. If the pilot program is extended or terminated, the USPTO will notify the public.”
Standard operating procedure for the USPTO, in common with other such bodies across the world, is to consider patent applications in order of filing date.