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USPTO Offers Free Fast Track for Small Businesses on COVID-19 Applications

Written by: Karl Braun, Esq.Justin Kerenyi, Esq.Daniel Miller, Esq., and Rodney Miller, Esq.

The United States Patent and Trademark Office is giving small businesses and micro entities priority examination without the usual fees in an effort to encourage continued investment in intellectual property related to COVID-19 during the coronavirus shutdown.

To qualify for the new COVID-19 Prioritized Examination Pilot Program, the claims of an application must cover a product or process that is subject to U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for use in the prevention and/or treatment of COVID-19. Those guidelines were published in the Federal Register and can be found here.

Administrators aim to reach final disposition of applications within six months if applicants respond quickly to questions and other communications from the USPTO.

Requests for prioritized examination would begin on July 13 and would conclude when 500 applications are made under the pilot program. If successful, the USPTO would consider extending the program.

“Independent inventors and small businesses are often the difference makers when it comes to cutting-edge innovation and the growth of our economy,” Andrei Iancu, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO, said in a statement issued by the agency. “They are also in most need of assistance as we fight this pandemic. Accelerating examination of COVID-19-related patent applications, without additional fees, will permit such innovators to bring important and possibly life-saving treatments to market more quickly.”