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PTO Update: COVID-19 Prioritized Examination Extended, Non-DOCX Filing Fee Deferred and More

On December 22, 2022, the US Patent & Trademark Office (PTO) announced the fifth extension of the Modified COVID-19 Prioritized Examination Pilot Program. The pilot program had been set to terminate on December 31, 2022, and is now extended to February 15, 2023. The program was implemented to support the acceleration of innovations in the fight against COVID-19. Under the pilot program, an applicant may request prioritized examination without payment of the prioritized examination fee and associated processing fee if the following criteria are met:

  • The patent application’s claim(s) cover a product or process related to COVID-19.
  • The product or process is subject to an applicable US Food & Drug Administration approval for COVID-19 use.
  • The applicant meets other requirements noted in the COVID-19 Track One Notice.

For more information, see the Federal Register notice.

The PTO also announced on December 29, 2022, that the new fee for filing nonprovisional utility patent applications that do not conform to the PTO requirements for submission in DOCX format will be deferred to the new effective date of April 3, 2023. The fee was originally scheduled to become effective on January 1, 2023. For more information, see the Federal Register notice.

The PTO and the US Copyright Office announced on December 23, 2022, that the deadline for submitting written comments on intellectual property considerations related to non-fungible tokens (NFTs) has been extended from January 9, 2023, to February 3, 2023. The dates for the public roundtables directed to patents, trademarks and copyrights, respectively, also have changed as follows:

  • The first roundtable, Trademarks and NFTs, is now set for January 24, 2023 (originally scheduled for January 12, 2023).
  • The second roundtable, Patents and NFTs, has been moved to January 26, 2023 (originally scheduled for January 10, 2023).
  • The third roundtable, Copyrights and NFTs, has been moved to January 31, 2023.

The roundtables will be livestreamed, and the PTO and Copyright Office will post instructions for the public to register to view them live. Click here for more information about the topics that will be discussed. For more information about the schedule change, see the Federal Register notice.

The PTO also announced that small entity filing fee discounts are increased from 50% to 60% and micro entity filing fee discounts are increased from 75% to 80%. The discount increases went into effect on December 29, 2022, when US President Joe Biden signed into law the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023, which included the Unleashing American Innovators Act of 2022. The new PTO fee schedule can be found here.




PTO Updates DOCX Filings, Delays Surcharge Fee

The US Patent & Trademark Office (PTO) recently announced that the surcharge fee for patent applications that are not filed in DOCX format will not go into effect until January 1, 2023. During the period before non-DOCX filings are hit with the surcharge fee, the PTO is encouraging applicants to begin filing patent applications in DOCX format (87 Fed. Reg. 25226). To address concerns some applicants have raised and to allow applicants to get acclimated to the process of filing applications in DOCX format, the PTO is providing applicants with the option to submit an applicant-generated PDF version of their application along with the DOCX file(s) when filing an application in the Patent Center without having to pay additional fees, such as application size fees.

Applicants who choose to submit an applicant-generated PDF with the validated DOCX file(s) will be able to rely on the applicant-generated PDF if a discrepancy occurs during the filing process. Once the non-DOCX filing surcharge fee officially goes into effect, applicants who submit an applicant-generated PDF with the validated DOCX file(s) will need to pay the surcharge fee and any other additional fees as a consequence for filing the applicant-generated PDF. This new document description is called “Auxiliary PDF of application,” and the corresponding document code is AUX.PDF.

The PTO advises:

Applicants are strongly encouraged to review their applications, including the USPTO-generated PDF, shortly after filing the application to identify any errors or discrepancies in the record, as discussed above. The applicant should file any necessary petition to correct the record early in prosecution and promptly after discovering any errors or discrepancies.




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