The Patent Office has announced a fast-track patenting process for those who can afford it. Capitalism and market forces fair well in Alexandria where an applicant can now pay a premium of $4,000 to have the application expedited and processed within 12 months, shaving years off the average patent pendency. Currently, small entities will not qualify for the 50% discount they typically enjoy in filing fees if they expedite the application through this program, but the Patent Office is apparently considering changing that.
The program is currently limited to the first 10,000 applications, which is a small slice of the annual filings at the PTO. However, one wonders if the expedited applications will tend to be filed in certain technology areas, such as software or computer-related inventions, because of the need for fast examination in quickly-evolving technologies. If so, will that create a slowdown for the non-fast-tracked applications?