On February 12, 2009, the Patent Office hosted a roundtable discussion on “deferred examination” which would permit applicants to defer examination of a patent application. Currently, the U.S. Patent Office examines patent applications on a first-come, first-served basis for all patent applications. In other foreign countries, patent applicants are allowed to defer examination until the applicant requests examination. The Patent Office held the roundtable to obtain feedback from U.S. stakeholders on whether deferred examination would be beneficial to them.
The rationale for deferred examination is that a certain number of patent applications would drop out of the Patent Office’s que for examination. This would reduce the work load of the Patent Office, and thus, reduce the overall time for patent applications to be examined since the Patent Office resources would not be used on those applications that drop out of the system.
After listening to the round table discussion, in my opinion, deferred examination appears to be a promising step in the right direction. One reason is that those patent applications that drop out of the que would generally be less important technology for one reason or another. As such, theoretically, more important technology would be examined while less important technology drops out.