TAKEAWAY: The USPTO’s Glossary Pilot Program provides expedited patent examination for certain patent applications if a glossary is provided in the application. However, this program is limited to applications that fall under the examination jurisdiction of Technology Centers 2100, 2400, 2600, and the Business Methods area of Technology Center 3600. Additionally, the USPTO has stated that any definitions provided in the glossary cannot be later modified or disavowed. 

The USPTO extended the Glossary Pilot Program until June 2, 2015 or until 200 petitions are accepted under this program, whichever occurs first. This program has been in effect since June 2, 2014 and was initiated in response to the White House’s June 4, 2013 Executive Action 2, in an effort to improve the quality of software-related patents. See Glossary Pilot Program, 79 Fed. Reg. 17137 (March 27, 2014).

Software related patent applications (those examined by Technology Centers 2100, 2400, 2600, and the Business Methods area of Technology Center 3600) can participate in the Glossary Pilot Program. To be eligible, the patent application must be an original, non-reissue, non-provisional utility application. National stage entries of PCT applications, design applications, and continuation/divisional applications cannot participate in this program.

The patent application must also meet a number of requirements, including, at the time of filing, providing a glossary section with a definition of terms as part of the application. Id., see Glossary Pilot, Examiner Training Slides available at the USPTO website. The glossary definitions must be self-contained but may be broad in scope. While the definitions may include examples and exclusions, they cannot only be a list of examples and exclusions. Definitions are not required for every claim term. However, the USPTO states that definitions should be provided for key claim terms, terms with a special definition, abbreviations, relative terms, terms of degree, and means-plus-function limitations (including the structure for performing the function). Terms that are not defined in the glossary will be interpreted using standard USPTO practice. The definitions in the glossary cannot be modified or disavowed.

If the petition for entry into the glossary program is approved, the application will receive expedited examination until the issuance of the first substantive Office Action. Thereafter, it will be treated as a normal application. If the petition is declined, the application will continue to be examined as a normal application. While preparing the glossary may involve added cost, there is no USPTO fee associated with the Glossary Pilot Program.