PTO Considers Making Missing Parts Pilot Permanent

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By Joseph Marks

Sept. 2 — The Patent and Trademark Office is considering making permanent a pilot program that gives inventors a break on deadlines for filing some parts of a patent application, according to a Federal Register notice scheduled to be published Sept. 6.

If it’s not made permanent, the Extended Missing Parts Pilot Program will expire at the end of this year. The PTO is asking for public feedback on whether the program should be dropped or made permanent.

The program, instituted in 2010, effectively gives applicants more time between when they start the application process—with a provisional application—and when they file a complete application. Specifically, the program provides more time to fill in missing parts on an application and to pay search and examination fees, provided an inventor has filed a provisional application.

The additional lead time became more useful with the 2011 passage of the America Invents Act, which switched the U.S. from a first-to-invent to a first-to-file patent system, incentivizing inventors to file provisional applications as early as possible so competitors don’t beat them to it.

The PTO is seeking input on which parts of the pilot are beneficial and which aren’t, what might discourage an inventor from using the program and whether it should be made permanent, as well as on any other aspects. Comments are due within two months.

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The Federal Register notice:

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