Would You Pay More to Get Your Patent Application Decision in 1 Year instead of 3?

July 9 2010

The U.S. Patent Office is proposing a 3-tier system that allows the applicant to choose from:

* A fast-track (with an additional fee)

* Regular (standard fee of $1,090 and a wait on average of 35 months)

* Delay of up to 30 months before examination (presumably with the standard fee).

Well, yes, I suppose allowing inventor choice can be a good idea, but a bunch of issues come to mind. Here are a few.

1. Some inventors I know (university types, entrepreneurs) have enough trouble scraping up the standard fee after paying patent attorneys, building prototypes, etc.). Wouldn't the proposed system create an unfair advantage for Big Pharma and Big Chem over the little guys and gals? Have and a Have Not tiers, if you will.

It probably depends on the size of the additional fee. I once paid something like $75 for an expedited passport renewal that assured me that I wouldn't have to dash to the mailbox every day, just to get my hopes dashed because the little blue book didn't arrive. That assurance was worth every penny.

2. Following up on the size of the additional fee issue: would the fee be a kind of cost-sharing concept with other impatient inventors who have developed technology in a similar area so the USPTO can hire new examiners?

I don't know how many applications an examiner can handle in a given period. Of course, it also depends on the length and complexity of the application. Would inventors with "orphan" technology have to pay more than those jumping on the hottest new tech bandwagon? THAT pricing structure probably wouldn't fly.

3. Mightn't there be a better way? We see "patent pending" all over, on products, on websites, on instruction sheets. These inventors wanted -- even NEEDED -- to get their technology out into the marketplace in advance of the plodding pace of the USPTO and at risk that their application may require modification or even be outright rejected.

I don't have the answers. But I'll bet some of you do. What would YOU recommend to the USPTO?

Category: Open to Debate
Filed under: Patents/IP