TAKEAWAY: The USPTO’s First-Time Filer Expedited Examination Pilot Program has been extended to permit patent applications of eligible first-time filers to be examined out of turn.

The USPTO has announced that its First-Time Filer Expedited Examination Pilot Program will be extended until March 11, 2025, or until the USPTO grants 1,000 petitions, whichever is reached first. The Pilot Program was implemented in March 2023 and provides first-time filers the opportunity to seek special status for their patent applications to be advanced out of turn for examination. The USPTO designed the Pilot Program to make the U.S. patent system more accessible to inventors who are new to the patent process, including those in historically underserved areas. No extra fee is required to participate.

To be eligible for the Pilot Program, applicants and inventors must satisfy the following requirements:

  • each inventor must not have been named as the sole inventor or a joint inventor on any other U.S. nonprovisional application;
  • the applicant and each inventor must qualify for micro entity status; and
  • each inventor must be reasonably trained on the basics of the USPTO’s patent application process.

The Pilot Program is open only to original nonprovisional utility applications that do not claim foreign priority. Original nonprovisional utility applications claiming priority to U.S. provisional applications are eligible.

To be considered for the Pilot Program, an applicant must file a petition to make special using form PTO/SB/464.

During the first year of the Pilot Program, over 350 petitions were filed, with over 142 accepted, and 15 patents granted. Further information on the Pilot Program is available at the USPTO’s website.