In a recent announcement, the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) announced that it is extending its Quick Path Information Disclosure Statement (QPIDS) pilot program through September 30, 2015. The QPIDS program is part of the USPTO’s continuing efforts to streamline prosecution as well as reduce application pendency. The program is designed to eliminate the need to file a Request for Continued Examination (RCE) solely to obtain consideration of an Information Disclosure Statement (IDS) submitted after payment of the issue fee but prior to grant. QPIDS accomplishes its goals by permitting an examiner to consider such an IDS without reopening prosecution.
Utility and reissue applications are eligible for treatment under QPIDS, as long as several formal requirements are met. One of those requirements is submission of a web-based ePetition to withdraw the application from issue under 37 CFR 1.313(c)(2), with the petition fee set forth in 37 CFR 1.17(h). Another requirement is submission of an RCE and corresponding fee. The RCE will be treated by the USPTO as a “conditional” RCE. If all QPIDS requirements are met, and the examiner determines that no item of information contained in the IDS necessitates reopening prosecution, the RCE will not be processed, and the RCE fee will be returned. The USPTO then will issue a new Notice of Allowance, along with a corrected Notice of Allowability, identifying the IDS as considered by the examiner.
The QPIDS program can be an effective tool in limiting prosecution costs and delays. Particularly, applicants wishing to have an item of information (e.g., a reference cited in a corresponding foreign application) considered after the issue fee has been paid, can rely on the QPIDS program for such consideration. Further, utilizing the QPIDS program in this manner can also limit potential concerns of inequitable conduct without needing to rely on the USPTO reissue or supplemental examination mechanisms.