Fast Route to a Patent (Part II) or, A Utility Patent Issues In Only Five Months

Posted Tuesday, May 12, 2015.

I am pleased to have Seattle-based Bucky as a client. Bucky is a purveyor of natural health and travel products, including the original U-shaped neck pillow seen on airliners everywhere.

Bucky recently had me prepare a utility application for a patent. Concerned about possible copying of the invention, obtaining a patent as quickly as possible was a priority for them. I suggested the Track One accelerated examination program, about which I’ve previously written.

To review, the Track One program allows a certain number of participants every year to pay the patent office a surcharge and receive fast examination of patent applications. The USPTO’s goal is to either issue or finally reject patents under the Track One program in 12 months or less. I have seen good results with this program as several of my clients have received their patents quickly with Track One.

In the case of Bucky, I filed the patent application I drafted for them last December 17th, and filed it with the Track One request. The patent, U.S. Patent No. 9,028,383, issued 146 days later on May 12th, 2015. That’s under five months from filing to issuance.

While I previously had a patent issue in 78 days, that was a design patent application using the expedited examination request program for design patents. 146 days is the fastest I have ever seen a utility patent issue, however.

The factors driving the length of pendency (pendency being the time from filing to issuance) vary. They include how quickly the application is assigned to an examiner, how broadly or narrowly the invention is claimed, how quickly the applicant can respond when the examiner takes action, and how quickly issue fees are paid when the application is allowed, among other things.

For Bucky, obtaining the patent using the Track One program means the invention is protected from copiers before it even hits the market. What is the additional cost at the time of filing for obtaining patent protection so quickly? The patent office currently charges a $2070 surcharge for small companies, and there’s a nominal charge for preparation and filing of the request. Individual inventors who qualify for the patent office’s micro-entity discount pay only $1035 for the Track One program. (These costs are in addition to the charges to prepare and file a patent application for regular processing.)

It’s a small fee to pay when considering that the patent grant of exclusive rights can begin two years sooner. What would that competitive advantage for two additional years at the beginning of a new product’s lifespan be worth? In many situations, it would be worth far more than $2070. Savvy businesses like Seattle-based Bucky recognize the value and take advantage of Track One. And they make great pillows, too.

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