2023 began with some good news for patent applicants from the USPTO! 

 

Increased Discounts for Small and Micro Entity Filers

As part of the Unleashing American Innovators Act of 2022, the discount for small entity applicants was increased from 50% to 60% of the standard undiscounted fee. Similarly, the discount for micro entity applicants was increased from 75% to 80%.  The new discounted rates took effect on January 1, 2023, and are reflected in the USPTO’s updated fee schedule. The discounts apply to all new fees associated with both new and pending patent applications, and maintenance fees for issued patents.

 

Expanded Expedited Examination For Cancer-Related Applications

You may remember that for the past several years, expedited examination was available for US patent applications which had at least one claim directed to methods for treatment of cancer using an immunotherapy. As part of a renewed US Federal “Cancer Moonshot” initiative, a new pilot program, the “Cancer Moonshot Expedited Examination Pilot Program,” is expanding the availability of expedited examination to US patent applications that claim methods of treatment of cancer including but not limited to use of an immunotherapy. In addition to methods employing immunotherapies, methods of treatment targeting specific genetic markers or mutations using a specific pharmaceutical composition, methods for treating a rare or childhood cancer using a specific pharmaceutical composition, and methods of detecting or treating a cancer using a medical device specifically adapted to detect or treat the cancer are also included. The new pilot program is also applicable to methods of treatment of a “nicotine dependency and promoting smoking cessation by administering a specific pharmaceutical composition.”

Notably, the expanded program also applies to “methods of treating a cancer by administering a specific pharmaceutical composition wherein the method comprises a step to diagnose the cancer” (emphasis added). For applicants in the diagnostic methods space, this example should ring a bell (and maybe even a few eyebrows), as the joining of a specific treatment to a diagnostic method has for several years been a main recommended path to the allowance of diagnostic method claims. I did not realize a US Federal agency could wink at its stakeholders, but there you go. 

All US Utility and PCT National Stage applications are eligible for the Cancer Moonshot Expedited Examination Pilot Program.  There is no fee, but only up to 1,000 petitions for entry into the program will be accepted. The program is set to run until January 31, 2025 or until all of the available petitions have been granted. In my experience with the old immunotherapy pilot program, following acceptance into the program, examination of the application begins within a few months.  

For more information on the Cancer Moonshot Expedited Examination Pilot Program and possible eligibility, feel free to contact us!  

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