The United States Patent and Trademark Office Announces Program Changes

The United States Patent and Trademark Office announced last week that there will be a number of changes to certain programs at the Office.  These changes include:

  • Project Exchange no longer limited to small entities. Previously, under this program, a small entity applicant could abandon a first unexamined application filed before 10/1/09 in exchange for expediting examination of a second unexamined application filed before 10/1/09. Now, any entity (not just small entity) can participate in this program, up to 15 applications through 12/31/10. This change will take effect in the coming weeks with publication of Federal Register notice. This is a temporary program, originally set to expire 6/30/10, but now appears to be extended to 12/31/10, details will be fleshed out in forthcoming notice.
  • PTO eliminates $130 PPH (Patent Prosecution Highway) fee, and
  • Green Tech expands to allow more categories of technology to be eligible for expedited examination. Under this pilot program, applicant can file petition to receive special status for pending patent application in green technologies. However, this was previously limited to certain USPTO classifications, which resulted in a large number of petitions being dismissed/denied. As of Friday, classification requirement has been removed. This program is limited to first 3000 granted petitions.