Track One: USPTO’s Speedy Patent Prosecution Comes at a Cost
What is Track One?
Track One is the USPTO’s prioritized patent examination program which guarantees a final disposition of a US patent within 12 months. Since its launch 12 years ago, the Track One program has allowed applicants to take advantage of ‘front of the line’ patent examination. Each fiscal year, the USPTO will accept 15,000 requested Track One patent applications. With over 12,936 Track One applications received in the 2023 fiscal year alone, it is clear many applicants are taking advantage of this opportunity of expedited patent prosecution.
What applications are eligible for Track One?
Only utility and plant patent applications are eligible for Track One. In other words, design patent applications are not eligible. Applicants interested in prioritized examination must file a Track One request at the same time as their patent application. The USPTO will either grant or deny Track One examination for the application based on the quotas mentioned above, while also considering application-specific requirements set for Track One eligibility. Some of these requirements include
- conforming to certain specification
- drawing and claims limits set by the USPTO
- paying the minimum required fees
It is also important to note that once Track One status is achieved, it is subject to end under a variety of situations, such as receiving a final office action or filing an extension to reply.
What are the benefits?
There are several benefits to filing your patent application with a request for Track One prioritized examination.
The obvious benefit of Track One examination is the significantly shorter prosecution period. If your request is granted, you are guaranteed a final disposition of the application within 12 months. However, in practice, data shows that the time from Track One request to final disposition is just over five months for the 2023 fiscal year. This is significantly quicker than what data shows to be the traditional pendency length for patent examination, falling around 25 months from application filing to final disposition.
Not only are Track One applications on the fast track, but data also indicates Track One applications have higher allowance rates than regular patent applications. Over the past 12 months, nearly 60% of Track One applications have been allowed, many likely without ever receiving a final rejection. Track One applications that are examined quickly and ultimately allowed result in issued patents with a cleaner prosecution history than those receiving multiple office actions or a final rejection. This is advantageous for litigation or licensing down the line of the patent’s life.
What does it cost?
Track One prioritized examination does come at a cost – that being, additional government fees. In additional to those fees typically due at the time of filing, Track One examination fees currently range from $830 to $4,200, depending on the applicant’s entity status. Additionally, the non-refundable Track One processing fee ranges from $30 up to $140. These fees are substantially greater than an application that is not prioritized.
Ultimately, an applicant must weigh the cost of filing a Track One application with the benefits of speedy prosecution, high allowance rates, and little to no prosecution history. If you need assistance in determining whether Track One is the right path for your patent application, reach out and let’s discuss.