Continuing its efforts to keep up with COVID-19, the USPTO has announced a prioritized examination pilot program reserved for applications covering products or processes subject to an applicable FDA approval for COVID-19 use.
Beginning on July 13, 2020, applicants may request prioritized examination for covered applications. The USPTO’s objective for the pilot is to complete examination of applications within 12 months of a granted request. The pilot is currently allowed 500 requests, but may be extended, terminated, or modified depending on workload, resources, feedback, and efficacy.
Requests may only be filed at specific points in the process. First, requests can be filed with a non-continuing original utility or plant provisional application. Second, requests can be filed with an original utility or plant nonprovisional application claiming specific forms of benefit to an earlier filing date. Finally, requests can be filed with requests for continued examination, but only one request for prioritized examination may be made with a given application.
Along with the request, applicant must certify that at least one claim covers a product or process related to COVID-19, certify that the applicant qualifies for either small or micro entity status at the time of the request, and execute an application data sheet meeting the conditions specified under 37 CFR 1.53(f)(3)(i).
Should the request be accepted, applicants should be wary of the following. First, any filing of petition for extension will cause the application to be removed from the special docket. Secondly, the First Action Interview Pilot Program is not available for applications granted prioritized examination.
The USPTO is accepting comments on the pilot program until July 13, 2020 to ensure consideration prior to the pilot.
If you have any questions or concerns about the pilot or how it may apply to your applications, please reach out to us here.