The Department of Commerce’s United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) now gives patent applicants the option of getting a final decision on patentability within 12 months. To qualify for this “accelerated examination,” patent applicants who file under this procedure must conduct a patent search to determine the closest “prior art,” submit all prior art that is closest to their invention, and explain what the prior art teaches and how their invention is different.
In addition to providing and explaining any prior art references, patent applicants must explicitly state how their invention is useful and must show how the written description in the application supports the claimed invention. The new regulation also limits the number of claims allowed in each applition and requires patent applicants to respond more quickly.
Jon Dudas, under secretary of commerce for intellectual property, explained the proposal by noting that “accelerated examination can provide innovators with the early certainty they may need to attract investors or protect their inventions against infringers.”
Inventors can patent any invention that is new, useful, non-obvious, and is accompanied by a written description disclosing how to make and use the invention. The USPTO presumes patent applications will be valid. To reject a patent application the USPTO must identify evidence indicating that the invention is not new or is obvious (known as “prior art”) and explain why the invention is not patentable in view of the prior art.
The USPTO has designed the accelerated examination procedure to give applicants quality patents in less time. In exchange for quick examination, patent examiners receive from applicants more focused and detailed information about the invention as well as the closest prior art. Increased disclosure upfront by applicants will help examiners make the correct decision more quickly about whether a claimed invention deserves a patent. For more information, check out the new patent reg.