Davis Brown Intellectual Property Law Blog 

USPTO Announces Prioritized Examination Pilot Program - May 8, 2020

Kassandra E Ricklefs

On May 7, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) announced a pilot program to waive prioritized examination fees for small and micro-entities with COVID-19 related patent applications. The USPTO will attempt to achieve final disposition in the participating cases within six months, upon timely response to notices and actions by the patent owner.


To qualify for the program the applicant must be either a small or micro-entity and the application must:

  • Cover a product or process related to COVID-19
  • Be subject to FDA approval for COVID-19 use, such as requiring a/an:
    • Investigational New Drug (IND) application
    • Investigational Device Exemption (IDE)
    • New Drug Application (NDA)
    • Biologics License Application (BLA)
    • Premarket Approval (PMA)
    • Emergency Use Authorization (EUA)
  • Have 30 or fewer total claims and four or fewer independent claims

Additionally, the request must be made with a/an:

  • Non-continuing original utility or plant nonprovisional
  • Original utility or plant non-provisional claiming priority to no more than one prior non-provisional or international application
  • Request for continued examination in a qualifying application

The program waives the fee for the request for prioritized examination currently set at $2,000 for a small entity and $1,000 for a micro-entity. The program also waives the processing fee currently set at $70 for a small entity and $35 for a micro-entity. All other fees must be paid by the time of the request.


The program is currently capped at 500 accepted requests, at which time it may be extended or terminated depending on the workload and resources of the USPTO. If you believe you may qualify for participation in this program or would like to explore patenting or prioritized examination options, contact your attorney.

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