As we all know, USPTO has set up many initiatives in recent years to try to reduce the backlog of unexamined patent applications. Many practitioners are familiar with most of these initiatives. It seems, however, that very few patent practitioners are aware of an initiative announced recently by the USPTO. The initiative, called QDPP or “Quick Disposal Pilot Program”, will essentially instantly eliminate approximately two percent of the backlog, and should lead to some applications being allowed very quickly.
The QDPP (see USPTO announcement) applies to all patent applications (utility, design, and plant) and all application types (including reissue) pending as of the program’s effective date which is today. According to the training materials for Examiners, the first step is to check to see whether the patent application is pending as of the effective date of the program. If not, then the QDPP procedure is inapplicable (as shown in the figure which has been copied from the training materials). Otherwise the Examiner calculates a “QD code”.
To understand the QD code, it is important to keep in mind the difference between a patent application number (which is eight digits) and a serial number (which is six digits). (See MPEP § 503.) The application number is defined as the “series code” (which is two digits) together with the serial number.
The QD code is defined as the last two digits of the serial number. If the QD code is 42, then the application is to be allowed. Otherwise if the QD code is 27, then the application is deemed abandoned. The remaining possibility is that the QD code is neither 42 nor 27, in which case examination proceeds normally.
The alert reader will appreciate that one consequence of this program is an immediate reduction in the examination backlog of about two percent.
It is interesting to consider that the actual reduction will actually be slightly greater than two percent, since the QD code of “00” happens less often than one percent of the time. (No application has a serial number that is all zeroes.)
Although I have not yet had an opportunity to speak with any Examiner about QDPP, I imagine it will be popular with the Examining Corps. Given the current pendency of about two million patent applications, this will lead to an instant earning of about forty thousand “counts”, probably fairly evenly distributed across all Examiners. On average, each Examiner will receive about eight “counts” under the QDPP program.
Of those applicants receiving allowances, this will of course be very good news.
The USPTO web page for QDPP has a large section of Frequently Asked Questions, some of which I have quoted here:
- Q. If I see that my application has a QD code of 42, can I amend the claims on April 1 and get the amended claims included in the Notice of Allowance?
- A. No. The allowance is limited to the claims as pending in the case prior to April 1, 2014.
- Q. I plan to file one hundred identical continuations on April 1, using the “reference filing” procedure under the Patent Law Treaties Implementation Act, hoping that one of them will receive a serial number ending in 42. If it does I plan to pay the filing fees in that application. Will that application be allowed under the QDPP program?
- A. No. The only applications to which QDPP is applicable are those which were pending prior to and on April 1, 2014.
- Q. If my application is deemed abandoned under the QDPP program, may I revive the application?
- A. Yes, if the abandonment was unintentional, then the applicant may revive the application upon filing of a suitable petition and payment of the required fee. Note that EFS-Web has an e-petition which may be used for this purpose and is automatically granted by the EFS-Web system.
- Q. May I use the QPIDS (Quick Path Information Disclosure Statement) program in an application allowed under the QDPP program?
- A. Yes, so long as the usual requirements for QPIDS are satisfied, for example the Issue Fee will need to have been paid at the time of filing the QPIDS request.
- Q. For a patent granted under the QDPP program, will it be possible to pursue a broadening of the claim in reissue?
- A. Yes, so long as (a) the reissue is filed within two years of issuance and (b) the patent owner states its intention to broaden within that same two-year period.
The Federal Register notice announcing the QDPP program says that if the program turns out to be successful, USPTO may consider extending the program to other USPTO processes, for example pending trademark applications, pending proceedings before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board, and pending proceedings before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, in each case based upon a QD code defined by the last two digits of the application number or proceeding number. It is assumed that the QD code values for quick disposition will be selected randomly and will apply only to applications or proceedings pending prior to the public announcement of the code values.