One of our clients recently received a notice of allowance from the USPTO after only six months of filing and should receive an issued U.S. utility patent within eight months of filing. For those of you familiar with the U.S. patent system and accustomed to waits of 3, 4, 5 or more years to obtain a patent, this may sound impossible. However, it is now possible due to prioritized examination (sometimes referred to as Track One examination) that was implemented by the USPTO late last year. See our earlier blog entry.

Prioritized examination is expected to result in a notice of allowance or a final rejection within twelve months of prioritized status being granted. In our first experience with Track One examination, the decision granting prioritized examination was mailed two months after filing the application. The first office action was mailed a speedy two and a half months after filing the application. After some timely prosecution, the notice of allowance was received six months after filing the application. Amazingly, this was in only half the time the prioritized examination system is expected to deliver a final result.

While this case is only one data point, it appears consistent with the recent statistics released by the USPTO. As of May, 31, 2012, pendency to the first office action from grant of prioritized examination is 1.43 months and pendency to final disposition from grant of prioritized examination is 4.20 months. It is also interesting to note that of the 795 final dispositions mailed by the USPTO so far, 449 of them resulted in allowances (an allowance rate of about 56%). Of course, many of the rejected cases are most likely still proceeding outside prioritized examination. Even so, they are ahead of where they would have been had they not started with prioritized examination.

Prioritized examination may be just what you need if obtaining a quick patent would be helpful to you considering the additional fees ($4,800 for large entity or $2,400 for a small entity in addition to the normal application fees). It also may be just what you need if you have a pending patent application that has a projected first office action of one or more years away because you can file a continuation application requesting prioritized examination which should result a final decision within a year. A request for prioritized examination may also be filed with a request for continued examination. We will provide additional information in the coming weeks and months as more applications work their way through prioritized examination.