Starting May 4, applicants for patents may pay to have their application expedited through the examination process, according to rules adopted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
The patent office fast track costs $4,800, and promises to provide final disposition on the application in 12 months.
The agency is limiting the number of applications it will expedite to 10,000 and will revisit the cap at the end of the year to determine if the maximum should be raised or even eliminated.
The present plan of the US Patent Office does not offer a reduced fee to small entities.
A post on online WSJ in Feb. 2011 had noted:
Yet some in the patent industry fear the initiative might do more harm than good by giving money-rich companies an edge over start-ups in the race for a patent, while doing little to reduce an already growing backlog of applications that is causing delays in product development and expansion plans.
Thus, the "fast track" program eerily re-enforces perceptions that present efforts of "patent reform" are biased against small entities, and are in favor of the industries of the status quo.
Note also the post on Patently-O Fast Track 12-Month Examination Begins May 4, 2011 - $4,000 fee