The USPTO announced that the first patent granted under its accelerated examination program issued on March 13, 2007. Brothers International, Ltd. was granted a patent for a printer ink gauge. The application was filed on September 29, 2006. For those keeping score, this means the patent issued in around six months versus the 25.4 months it usually takes to examine an application in the “ink cartridge technology”.
As originally discussed here on Anticipate This!, the accelerated examination procedure allows an application to receive a full patent review and a decision regarding patentability within twelve months. How is the USPTO able to accelerate the process? By asking the applicant to provide its own prior art and an explanation stating explicitly how the invention is useful and novel in view of the art. Also, an applicant is required to show how the written description supports the invention as claimed.
The grant of the Brothers patent indicates the accelerated examination process works and is effective. However, it is unclear how many of these accelerated patents will be ultimately granted and how strong the patents that are granted will be. Afterall, asking an applicant to provide his own prior art and distinguishing comments seems a bit like letting the inmates run the asylum. One thing cannot be denied: the accelerated patent examination procedure is yet another interesting and untested patenting tool for the savvy inventor and marketer.