Patent applications typically take quite a while to become actual patents. It’s currently taking between 2 and 4 years just to get the First Office Action from the Patent Office. There are a few ways to speed up the examination process in some situations, however.
Patent practitioners are buzzing right now with the Patent Office’s recent proposal to create a three-track examination. While that system does propose a way to speed up examination in exchange for a fee, there are ways right now for some applicants to achieve prioritized examination.
Applicants can request that their application be made “special”- that their applications be given prioritized examination – if their applications are related to some green technologies, recombinant DNA, cancer, AIDS, counter-terrorism, even superconductivity. While these requests focus on the invention, the applicant can make a more personal request: that his/her age or health requires faster examination.
An applicant older than 65 years of age can have their application made special. Or, applicants whose health is a concern, perhaps because they won’t be alive long enough to prosecute a normally-filed application or because they are losing mental capabilities can also ask that their applications be made special. And while most requests have an associated fee, petitions based on age or health require do not. Be aware, however, that application file histories can become public record, and anything that is placed in them can as well. Age might not be of concern to some, but other applicants might not wish to disclose their Alzheimer’s or cancer.