Although the procedure is expensive and full of potential pitfalls, applicants continue to use the PTO’s accelerated examination program.
Some of the largest backlogs are found on the desks of examiners handling business method patent applications. Technology Center 3620 (e-commerce), for instance, is currently issuing first office actions on applications filed about four years ago.
Now, the first business method patent has issued under the accelerated examination program. U.S. Patent No. 7,251,621 – a “Method and apparatus for the home delivery of local retail e-commerce orders” – was filed on December 29, 2006 and issued July 31, 2007. The applicant used a smart approach of first filing an original application; then filing a continuation application along with the request for accelerated examination.
According to reports that I have received, the PTO commonly rejects requests for accelerated examination based on deficient element-by-element analysis of the claims with reference to the cited prior art. (The original application has not yet been examined).
Many patent attorneys appear quite afraid of providing an element-by-element analysis of the submitted prior art. However, on examination of the ‘621 prosecution history, the analysis does not appear to significantly differ from what is commonly included in an office action response.
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