Getting a patent through the patent office is a long process. It could take 3 years or more, depending on the breadth of the claims and the examiner who is examining your patent application. However, you can shorten the time to get a patent by filing a Prioritized Examination Request or a Petition to Make Special. By doing so, you could get a patent within a few months.
I. How does Expedited Examination work?
The Prioritized Examination Request and the Petition to Make Special place your patent application at the front of the line for examination. Typically, patent applications are examined on a first-come, first-served basis. However, with the Prioritized Examination Request and the Petition to Make Special, your patent application will be brought to the front of the line and examined before those that were filed before you.
In my experience, patent applications filed with the Prioritized Examination Request are examined within 4 to 6 months of filing a patent application. See Patent Track One Data. In contrast, patent applications filed without the Prioritized Examination Request are examined 14 months to 2 years after it is filed. See Patents Pendency Data. Under expedited examination, you can get your patent within six months to 1 year.
II. What are the differences between Prioritized Examination and a Petition to Make Special?
Here are the differences between the Prioritized Examination Request and the Petition to Make Special.
The Prioritized Examination Request is a pay-to-play system. All you have to do is pay the fee to expedite your patent application.
You must also file the Prioritized Examination Request when you file your patent application. You cannot opt into the Fast Track system after filing your patent application. However, you can file a continuation patent application with the Prioritized Examination Request later if you change your mind.
The Petition to Make Special is free, but your health must be failing, or you must be older than 65 years old.
In my experience, expedited examination based on a Petition to Make Special should shorten the time to get a patent, but it doesn’t work smoothly. You need to call the Patent Office to ensure that the patent application gets expedited treatment.
III. What are the downsides to expediting your patent application?
The downside to expediting your patent application is that you will incur additional fees faster. Remember, expediting the examination of your patent application also means that you will have to respond to those office actions sooner. To respond, you will have to spend money on a patent attorney to help you with that response.
My primary recommendation is that you should not expedite your patent application unless you have a business justification for it. For example, suppose you have a potential licensee that will only license your technology with a patent. In that case, you might consider expediting your patent application.
However, expediting a patent application just because you want it sooner than later generally doesn’t benefit the inventor. Delay your legal expenses to spend more money on marketing, building a website, and other business activities that will help you grow your business.