Accelerating Innovation for New Inventors: Inside the First-Time Filer Expedited Patent Pilot Program

Most inventors can attest to the surprise they felt upon learning that the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) likely will not respond to their first patent application for a couple of years after filing. To address this concern, in 2023, the USPTO introduced the First-Time Filer Expedited Examination Pilot Program, which was designed to ease the process for individuals and small companies submitting their first non-provisional patent application. Essentially, the program allows the applicant to file a patent application along with a petition to make special (PTMS) without having to pay the fee or satisfy the special requirements that normally accompany such a petition. This typically results in the patent application receiving its first office action (examination findings) or allowance from the USPTO merely within three to five months.

To participate in the program, patent applicants must certify the following: 1) the inventor or joint inventors have not been listed on any previously filed non-provisional patent applications, 2) the applicant and all inventors qualify for micro entity status (their income from the previous year falls below a certain threshold), and 3) the inventor or joint inventors have received basic training on the U.S. patent application process.

The pilot program was scheduled to end on March 11, 2024; however, due to continued interest in the program, the USPTO extended the program until March 11, 2025 or upon the acceptance of 1,000 patent applications. As of April 16, 2024, the USPTO reported that only 170 applications have been accepted through the program, indicating plenty of remaining opportunities for participation.

In summary, the First-Time Filer Expedited Examination Pilot Program presents an exceptional opportunity for newcomers to the patent game to enjoy the fruits of their hard work in a significantly shorter timeframe than usual.

About the Author:

A member in Dickinson Wright’s Troy office, William Hurles has more than ten years of experience in all areas of intellectual property law, including domestic and international patent, trademark, and copyright matters. He has significant experience in filing and prosecuting patent and trademark applications before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.  William can be reached at 248-433-7587 or . You can also visit his bio here.