The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has announced that it has expanded the Track I program for expedited patent examination to include Requests for Continued Examination (RCEs). The change is effective immediately, and applies to RCEs filed before, on, or after December 19, 2011.
As detailed in the Federal Register Notice, an RCE application may be awarded prioritized examination status if the following conditions are met:
- The RCE is filed in an original (non-reissue) utility or plant nonprovisional application filed under 35 USC § 111(a) or entered into the national stage under 35 USC § 371.
- The Request for Prioritized Examination is filed via EFS-Web (except in a plant application) before a post-RCE Office Action is issued. The Request for Prioritized Examination may be filed concurrently with or subsequently to the filing of the RCE.
- The application must contain or be amended to contain no more than 4 independent claims and no more than 30 total claims at the time the Request for Prioritized Examination is filed, and the application must not contain any multiple dependent claims.
- The Request for Prioritized Examination must be accompanied by the prioritized examination fee set forth in 37 CFR § 1.17(c) (currently $4800/$2400), the processing fee set forth in 37 CFR § 1.17(i) (currently $130), and if not previously paid, the publication fee set forth in 37 CFR § 1.18(d).
- Only one Request for Prioritized Examination of an RCE can be filed in a given application.
For more information about the Fast Track program, please contact me.