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USPTO Further Extends Fast Track Program for COVID-Related Inventions

On January 3, 2021, the US Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) announcement an extension of the modified COVID-19 priority review pilot program. Compliant requests submitted by March 31, 2022 will be accepted.

We have covered this modified pilot program in our Publish three months ago, and we’ve covered the original program in previous posts (here and here). The USPTO notice issued in September extended the pilot program to December 31, 2021 and removed the limit on the number of applications that can be given priority review. The current notice now extends the program for an additional three months.

When the COVID-19 pilot program began, former USPTO Trade Under Secretary for Intellectual Property and Director Andrei Iancu noted that “independent inventors and small businesses often make a difference when they are is about cutting-edge innovation and growing our economy. [and]… Also need help most as we fight this pandemic. As he explained, “Accelerating the review of COVID-19-related patent applications at no additional cost will allow these innovators to bring important and possibly life-saving treatments to market faster.” “

Priority examination allows a request to be advanced outside the round and to grant it special examination status. Candidates of any height can request a priority exam using the Track One exam under Rule 1.102 (e) (1) for any invention, at any time, but this requires substantial costs ($ 4,200 for a large entity; $ 2,100 for a small entity). On the other hand, the COVID-19 pilot program allows applicants from small and micro-entities to apply for priority review. without payment of priority examination fees and associated processing fees if the following conditions are met:

  • The claim (s) covered a COVID-19 product or process
  • The product or process was subject to applicable Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for the use of COVID-19
  • The applicant met the other requirements indicated in COVID-19 Track One notice

The most recent USPTO announcement highlights that the Track One review under Rule 1.102 (e) (1) does not have the COVID-19 Priority Review Pilot Program restrictions on the types of inventions for which special status may be sought. Additionally, delays associated with determining whether an application makes a claim that covers a COVID-19-related product or process and whether the product or process was subject to applicable FDA approval for the use of the COVID-19. COVID-19 can be prevented under the first path. Program.

As of November 29, 2021, a total of 180 patents had been issued from applications receiving priority status under the pilot program. The average time, including time spent on further examination, from filing date to issuance date for these applications was 276 days. The shortest time between the filing date and the issuance date of such applications was 75 days.

Applicants are encouraged to file priority review requests under the extended COVID-19 program no later than March 31, 2022, as any extension beyond that date is uncertain. Unless the pilot program is extended by a subsequent notice, after the expiration of this extension, the pilot program will be terminated. In accordance with the September notice, the USPTO said that even if the pilot program has ended, applications accepted into the pilot program no later than the end of the program will retain their priority status until that status is completed. for one or more reasons, as outlined in the COVID-19 Track One Notice.