In the January and March issues of the IP Bulletin, we reported about the initiative implemented by the USPTO to reduce the backlog of patent applications by permitting small entity applicants to expressly abandon one application and file a petition seeking special status for a second application. We are pleased to announce that this program been extended through the end of the year, or until the receipt of 10,000 qualifying petitions, whichever comes first. More significantly, this program is no longer limited to small entity applicants. Now all applicants are eligible to “dump” one patent application to “bump” a second application up in the queue. Each entity seeking to take advantage of this program is limited to 15 applications. An entity is based on ownership, and thus applications assigned to an entity, or subject to an obligation to assign to an entity, are included as being owned by that entity.
In order for an application to qualify to be “bumped,” both applications must be unexamined, must have been filed earlier than October 1, 2009, and must either be owned by the same party or have at least one common inventor. Further, the abandoned application cannot be revived, but a refund of an applicant’s search fee and excess claims fee can be recovered. All patent application owners are encouraged to evaluate their current patent portfolio to determine if they have applications they are willing to abandon in order to pursue another application in a quicker time frame.
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