[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 241 (Thursday, December 15, 2011)]
[Notices]
[Pages 77979-77980]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-32115]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

Patent and Trademark Office

[Docket No. PTO-P-2011-0078]


Sunset of the Patent Application Backlog Reduction Stimulus Plan 
and a Limited Extension of the Green Technology Pilot Program

AGENCY: United States Patent and Trademark Office, Commerce.

ACTION: Notice.

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SUMMARY: The United States Patent and Trademark Office (Office) has 
provided two procedures under which an applicant may have an 
application accorded special status for examination. The Patent 
Application Backlog Reduction Stimulus Plan is available if the 
applicant expressly abandons another copending unexamined

[[Page 77980]]

application. The Green Technology Pilot Program is available to patent 
applications pertaining to environmental quality, energy conservation, 
development of renewable energy resources, and greenhouse gas emission 
reduction. In view of the trend in filings under the Patent Application 
Backlog Reduction Stimulus Plan, this plan has fulfilled its purpose 
and will not be extended. In view of the success of the Green 
Technology Pilot Program, this plan will be extended until 500 
additional applications have been accorded special status under this 
program or until March 30, 2012, whichever occurs earlier. Following 
the expiration of this extension, the program will be eliminated, and 
applicants may instead use the newly enacted Prioritized Examination 
(Track I) program. The Track I program not only provides advancement of 
examination, but sets a target of reaching final disposition within 12 
months from the time advancement is initiated. Furthermore, the 
advancement in the Track I program is available to all technologies and 
is not restricted to certain categories of invention as in the Pilot 
Program.

DATES: Effective Date: December 15, 2011. The Patent Application 
Backlog Reduction Stimulus Plan became effective on November 27, 2009, 
was modified on June 24, 2010, and was extended on November 22, 2010. 
The Green Technology Pilot Program became effective on December 8, 
2009, was modified to eliminate the classification requirement on May 
21, 2010, and was extended on November 10, 2010.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Pinchus M. Laufer or Michael Cygan, 
Office of Patent Legal Administration, Office of the Associate 
Commissioner for Patent Examination Policy, by telephone at (571) 272-
7726 or (571) 272-7700; or by mail addressed to: Mail Stop Comments 
Patents, Commissioner for Patents, P.O. Box 1450, Alexandria, VA 22313-
1450.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: On November 27, 2009, the USPTO published a 
notice in the Federal Register providing an additional temporary basis 
(the Patent Application Backlog Reduction Stimulus Plan) under which a 
small entity applicant may have an application accorded special status 
for examination if the applicant expressly abandons another copending 
unexamined application. See Patent Application Backlog Reduction 
Stimulus Plan, 74 FR 62285 (Nov. 27, 2009), 1349 Off. Gaz. Pat. Office 
304 (Dec. 22, 2009) (notice). The USPTO indicated that the plan would 
last for the period ending on February 28, 2010, but may be extended 
for an additional time period thereafter. See Patent Application 
Backlog Reduction Stimulus Plan, 74 FR at 62287, 1349 Off. Gaz. Pat. 
Office at 306. The USPTO extended the plan for an additional four 
months to June 30, 2010. See Extension of the Patent Application 
Backlog Reduction Stimulus Plan, 75 FR 5041 (Feb. 1, 2010), 1351 Off. 
Gaz. Pat. Office 202 (Feb. 23, 2010). Subsequently, the USPTO expanded 
the plan to eliminate the small entity requirement and further extended 
its duration to expire at the earlier of the December 31, 2010 date, or 
the date that 10,000 applications have been accorded special status 
under this plan. See Expansion and Extension of the Patent Application 
Backlog Reduction Stimulus Plan, 75 FR 36063 (June 24, 2010), 1356 Off. 
Gaz. Pat. Office 173 (July 20, 2010). The USPTO further extended the 
plan to expire at the earlier of December 31, 2011, or the date that 
10,000 applications have been accorded special status under this plan. 
See Extension of the Patent Application Backlog Reduction Stimulus 
Plan, 75 FR 71072 (Nov. 22, 2010), 1361 Off. Gaz. Pat. Office 230 (Dec. 
28, 2010). Filings under this plan reached a peak in late 2010 and have 
since steadily decreased. Accordingly, as those desiring the benefits 
of this plan have taken advantage of its provisions, the Patent 
Application Backlog Reduction Stimulus Plan has run its course and will 
not be further extended beyond December 31, 2011.
    On December 8, 2009, the USPTO published a notice for the 
implementation of the Green Technology Pilot Program. See Pilot Program 
for Green Technologies Including Greenhouse Gas Reduction, 74 FR 64666 
(December 8, 2009), 1349 Off. Gaz. Pat. Office 362 (December 29, 2009) 
(Green Technology Notice). The Green Technology Notice indicated that 
an applicant may have an application advanced out of turn (accorded 
special status) for examination, if the application pertained to green 
technologies and met other requirements specified in the Green 
Technology Notice. The USPTO published a notice eliminating the 
classification requirement of the Green Technology Pilot Program on May 
21, 2010. See Elimination of the Classification Requirement in the 
Green Technology Pilot Program, 75 FR 28554 (May 10, 2010), 1355 Off. 
Gaz. Pat. Office 188 (June 15, 2010). The USPTO further extended the 
program to expire at the earlier of December 31, 2011, or the date that 
3,000 applications have been accorded special status under this 
program. See Expansion and Extension of the Green Technology Pilot 
Program, 75 FR 69049 (Nov. 10, 2010), 1361 Off. Gaz. Pat. Office 50 
(Dec. 7, 2010). In view of the success of the Green Technology Pilot 
Program in the designated technology areas, the Green Technology Pilot 
Program will be extended until an additional 500 applications have been 
accorded special status under this program (for a total of 3,500 
applications) or March 30, 2012, whichever occurs earlier. Following 
the expiration of this extension, the program will be eliminated, and 
applicants may instead seek to use the newly enacted Prioritized 
Examination (Track I) program.
    The Prioritized Examination (Track I) program permits an applicant 
to have an application advanced out of turn (accorded special status) 
for examination under 37 CFR 1.102(e), if the application contains, 
upon filing, a request for prioritized (Track I) examination 
accompanied by the appropriate fees. See Changes to Implement the 
Prioritized Examination Track (Track I) of the Enhanced Examination 
Timing Control Procedures Under the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act, 76 
FR 59050 (September 23, 2011), 1371 Off. Gaz. Pat. Office 151 (October 
18, 2011) (Track I Notice).
    The Track I Program provides prioritized examination having a more 
aggressive time frame for examination than the Green Technology Pilot 
Program, with an aggregate goal of reaching final disposition within 12 
months and maintains an enhanced special status of the application 
throughout prosecution until final disposition. Additionally, the Track 
I Program does not have the restrictions of the Green Technology Pilot 
Program on the types of inventions for which special status may be 
sought, as the Track I Program does not require a connection to any 
particular technology.
    In view of the ability of any applicant to request prioritized 
examination with the filing of an application under the procedure set 
forth in the Track I Notice, the Green Technology Pilot Program will 
not be extended past the earlier of March 30, 2012, or the date that 
3,500 applications have been accorded special status under this 
program.

    Dated: December 7, 2011.
David J. Kappos,
Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of 
the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
[FR Doc. 2011-32115 Filed 12-14-11; 8:45 am]
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