USPTO Semiconductor Technology Pilot Program

| Ian W. GilliesZachary B. Messick

USPTO Announces New, Limited-Time Program for Expedited Semiconductor Patent Applications

On December 1, 2023, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) began accepting petitions for the Semiconductor Technology Pilot Program in support of the Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors (CHIPS) Act of 2022. Qualifying applications will be granted special expedited examination status at the USPTO until a first Office Action has been issued.

To qualify for the Pilot Program, applications must contain at least one claim that covers a process or apparatus for manufacturing a semiconductor device within the technical concepts of certain qualifying technologies of the  Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC) system. The applications must also be non-continuing original utility nonprovisional applications or an original utility nonprovisional application that claims the benefit of only one prior application that is a non-provisional application or an international application. The applications are limited to three independent claims, a total of twenty claims, and cannot include any multiple dependent claims.

A petition to make special must be filed using Form PTO/SB/467 within 30 days of filing a non-provisional application or within 30 days of entry into the national stage from a corresponding PCT Application. No fees are required for the petition, although it must be filed electronically in DOCX format through the USPTO Patent Center.

Participation in the Pilot Program is limited, however. The USPTO is accepting the petitions to make special until a total of 1,000 applications have been granted special status or until December 2, 2024, whichever is earlier. Further, an inventor may submit no more than five petitions to make special under the Pilot Program.

Contact your patent practitioner to see if your semiconductor-related technology qualifies, and whether it makes sense to file a petition for expedited examination under this new program for your patent application(s).