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U.S. Patent Office Extends Program that Allows Start-Ups a Way to Defer Costs



The US Patent and Trademark Office has continued the Extended Missing Parts Pilot Program which gives US utility and plant patent applicants additional time to avoid paying large filing fees. The USPTO implemented the program in December 2010 and has been extending it over the last four years. It allows a patent applicant to claim priority to a US provisional patent application within 12 months of its filing date, and then delay incurring significant government examination fees for 12 months after filing the US non-provisional application. This gives patent applicants a less expensive route to maintain US (and potentially worldwide) patent rights for up to 24 months, which is especially important in view of the US first-to-file system requiring the immediate filing of patent applications before the barring acts of public use or sale of the invention. Use of this pilot program should be considered by both startups trying to conserve resources when seeking funding and large patent filers trying to limit costs while determining if the invention can be commercialized successfully.

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