In a press release today, the USPTO has proposed a tiered examination system where applicants could choose to pay a higher fee in exchange for quicker examination of an application or could opt for a delay of up to 30 months before docketing for examination. This is the latest in Director Kappos' attempts to control application pendency at the Office.
The "prioritized examination" track would be much like the current accelerated examination system in that final action on the application would be targeted to be within one year of filing. However, applicants would not have to provide the onerous examination support document with the application.
Similarly, the slow track would permit applicants to elect a delay of up to 30 months before the application is placed in the examination queue. There is no indication in the press release as to whether applications filed under this track would receive a break on the filing fee. However, this track would seem to be a favorable choice for companies that would prefer their patents to issue later (and therefore, with patent term adjustment, expire later).
To read the full press release, click here.