One of several much-anticipated changes to the U.S. patent system has been postponed, as the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office struggles with financial constraints.
Known as the Track One program, the planned initiative would have enabled inventors to pay an additional fee for their patent applications to be processed in less than the usual amount of time.
The USPTO had previously announced that the new option would become available to innovators as of May 4. Due to reduced spending authority resulting from the government's recent Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, however, the initiative has been indefinitely postponed.
David Kappos, under secretary of commerce for intellectual property and director of the USPTO, said the agency was forced to postpone Track One because it does not have sufficient resources to hire the necessary number of patent examiners.
According to Kappos, the Track One program has been postponed until the USPTO is "in a position to implement it successfully," while also "ensuring there will be no adverse impact on non-prioritized examination applications.”
The USPTO has not yet announced a new start date for Track One.