After much debate and discussion, the United States Patent and Trademark Office recently announced that it plans to launch a new, fast-tracked patent application option in May.
The new option, which will launch officially on May 4, will enable inventors to pay an additional fee to expedite the application process for their patents. According to the USPTO, the surcharge for fast-tracked processing will be $4,000.
Currently, the average patent takes nearly three years to be processed. The fast-tracked option will be called Track One and will eventually be one of three options offered by the USPTO.
David Kappos, under secretary of commerce for intellectual property and director of the USPTO, said the new option provides "a comprehensive, flexible patent application processing model to our nation’s innovators." According to Kappos, a system incorporating several patent application options will be "more responsive to the real-world needs" of patent applicants.
When the fast-tracked process is launched in May, the option will initially be limited to a maximum of 10,000 applications between the launch and the end of the fiscal year. According to the USPTO, this limit will be reevaluated for the coming years.