In 2006, the USPTO implemented the accelerated examination program that allows a patent application to be examined more quickly out of turn.  The program requires the applicant to file a petition to make special with an appropriate showing.  Now, the USPTO has published a ‘Request for Comments Regarding the Continuation of the Accelerated Examination Program’.

The USPTO is considering the termination of the accelerated examination program because the number of requests has been too low to justify the cost of continuing the program. The lack of popularity of the accelerated examination program is mainly due to the introduction of the prioritized examination program (referred to as ‘Track One’) in 2011.  The Track One program was provided for in the America Invents Act (AIA) and also provides the ability to advance an application out of turn, but without some of the burdensome requirements of the accelerated examination program.  Since its introduction, requests for Track One have approached 10,000 annually compared with fewer than 250 applications accepted into the accelerated examination program each year.

As a result, it is unclear whether the accelerated examination program continues to provide an adequate benefit to the public to justify its cost of implementation.  The USPTO has opened the period for comment on this issue through March 13, 2017.