The United States Patent and Trademark Office has established a new program for prioritized examination for patent applications for inventions related to COVID-19 and for trademark applications for marks used for certain medical products and services used in connection with COVID-19.

On May 7, 2020, the Director of the PTO announced the program for patent applications.  The program applies to products and processes related to the COVID-19 pandemic, specifically, to those subject to FDA approval for COVID-19 use, including investigational new drug applications, investigational device exemptions, new drug applications, biologics license applications, pre-market approvals, and emergency use authorizations.

To participate in the program, the patent applicant must be a small or micro entity.  The fees typically charged by the PTO for prioritized examination will be waived for qualifying patent applications.  If the patent application qualifies, the PTO will examine the application and reach a final determination within 12 months, and, in some cases, within six months.  The patent application program is limited to the first 500 applications, although the program may be extended.

On June 15, 2020, the Director of the PTO announced a similar program for trademark applications.  The program applies to marks for a product or service that is subject to FDA approval for COVID-19 use or a medical or medical research service for the prevention or treatment of COVID-19.  An applicant must file a petition to qualify for the prioritized examination.  The PTO will waive the fees for these petitions.

According to the Director, the goal of the prioritized examination programs is to “help to bring important and possibly life-saving treatments to market more quickly.”

And we can all hope for that!