It appears next month the Track One program announced by USPTO nearly a year ago will commence. Filers who adhere to certain limitations with respect to their claims and who file electronically … and who pay still another $4,000 … will get priority treatment (within 12 months) at USPTO.
Speeding things up is an admirable goal. Unfortunately, unless massive hiring and training is incorporated into this program, it’s still a zero sum game. In a finite system, a move “up” by one of the participants necessarily results in a move “down” by another. The net result is no improvement in time saved, but still an increase in revenues at USPTO and overall expenses for the system.
Last June’s announcement of the program supposedly addressed this issue with an ambiguous promise to “increase the work output…” I would have rather seen the words “hire” and “train,” with specific goals attached.
And we need to hurry with the "USPTO gets to keep and spend all of the fees it collects" provisions of patent reform. It's in both the House and Senate versions (the House version easily passed Judiciary Committee muster), but we still have a long way to go. USPTO expects 10,000 filers to opt for Track 1 between May 4 and September 30. Do the math. Any portion of that $40M that will be available for "general funds" in the U.S. Treasury is NOT going to help our patent system. In addition, if patent reform becomes a reality and USPTO has more control over their fees, Track 1 fees for smaller entities may well be lowered, at least that is the plan.