The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) announced on December 19, 2011 a final rule change permitting applicants to request prioritized examination for applications after the filing of a request for continued examination. The changes in this final rule are applicable to any patent application in which a proper request for continued examination has been filed before, on, or after Dec. 19, 2011.

Track I (prioritized examination) allows inventors and businesses, for a fee, to have their patents processed within 12 months.

Under the procedure set forth in this final rule, once the application is accorded special status after the filing of a request for continued examination it will be placed on the examiner’s special docket throughout its entire course of continued prosecution before the examiner until a final disposition is reached in the application.

“See the Federal Register notice.(Fed Reg Notice)”:http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-12-19/html/2011-32434.htm