When I was first in practice, there were a dozen ways to get a US patent application made “special”. Just to give a few examples, you could explain that a would-be investor needs to know whether a particular invention is patentable before constructing a factory. You could explain that you have found someone who infringes a claim of a patent application. You could point out that your subject matter would promote national security or fight terrorism or benefit the environment. You could establish that one of the inventors is in such poor health that the inventor might not live long enough to assist in the prosecution of the application. You could establish that one of the inventors is 65 years of age or older.
A few years ago the USPTO decided to pare down the list of ways to get a patent application made “special”. The list of ways is now very short. In this blog post I will talk about two of the remaining ways, namely:
- special based upon age of the inventor, and
- special based upon poor health of the inventor.
What might the practitioner charge for making a case special on either of these grounds?
A first thing to appreciate is that once a case has been made special on either of these grounds, there is little or no subsequent burden on the practitioner. The practitioner does not, for example, need to worry about making blunders that would lead to a loss of “special” status.
In the case of the petition to make a case special due to an inventor being 65 years of age or older, the process is very simple. The practitioner need merely make a few mouse clicks in EFS-Web and the petition is granted automatically. The entire process takes five minutes or less.
The petition to make a case special due to poor health of an inventor is not quite as easy — it is not auto-granted. But it is also not a very burdensome petition. Many such petitions have been granted based upon nothing more than a simple statement from the inventor’s doctor and a simple request signed by the practitioner.
With all of this in mind, my reaction is to suggest for most petitions of this kind, the practitioner might want to consider waiving any professional fee for the filing.
What do you think? Please post a comment with your thoughts.