USPTO Opens Application Exchange Program to All Applicants to Reduce Patent Backlog

WASHINGTON – The Commerce Department’s United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) today announced the expansion to all applicants of its “Project Exchange” program. Under the expanded Project Exchange, which will take effect with the publication of the Federal Register notice in the coming weeks, any applicant with more than one application, filed prior to the inception of the program, currently pending at the USPTO can receive expedited review of one application in exchange for withdrawing an unexamined application. The expanded Project Exchange will give all applicants with multiple filings greater control over the priority in which their applications are examined and enable priority applications to be examined on an expedited basis. By providing incentives for applicants to withdraw unexamined applications that may no longer be important to them, Project Exchange is expected to appreciably reduce the backlog of unexamined patent applications pending before the USPTO.

The expanded Project Exchange will be limited to 15 applications per entity through December 31, 2010.

“This week marks the 50th anniversary of the invention of the laser—a transformational invention that has spawned many other critical inventions, created new industries and generated jobs,” noted Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO David Kappos. “Inventions like the laser remind us of the need for the USPTO to do everything we can to enable the next great innovation to come to market. Project Exchange will help us reduce the backlog and enable us to process applications more quickly.”

The program continues on a temporary basis, and applicants who wish to take advantage of the program must submit the necessary materials before the designated extended deadline of December 31, 2010. Whereas new patent applications are normally taken up for examination in the order they are filed, applications made special under this pilot will be advanced in the examination queue.

Additional details on the program will be available soon in the Federal Register and on the USPTO Web site.

For non-press inquiries, contact Pinchus M. Laufer, Office of the Associate Commissioner for Patent Examination Policy, by phone at 571-272-7726 or e-mail