On May 7, 2020, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) published an announcement regarding a new pilot program for reviewing patent applications related to COVID-19. Applications submitted by small and medium-sized enterprises, as well as private individuals, will have a higher priority when examined by the expertise, without paying any additional fees.
The main goal of the USPTO initiative is to accelerate the prosecution of the patent applications that can help combat the COVID-19 pandemic. In particular, the decision to grant a patent, on average, will be issued within a year from the application filing date, or within 6 months if the applicant responds promptly to notifications by the Office.
Initially, the pilot program is intended for accelerated prosecution of only 500 patent applications. However, this number can be further increased, depending on the global situation, the workload of the experts and other factors.
This program will allow the applicants to obtain patents much faster, and can stimulate small or non-profit companies that usually do not order accelerated examination of the patent applications, as this requires additional costs (1-2 thousand US dollars).