ANN ARBOR — Eric Sosenko, an attorney in the Ann Arbor office of the intellectual property law firm Brinks Hofer Gilson & Lione, Monday urged Michigan’s technology-driven companies to consider investing in a new option under patent reform, the “America Invents Act,” that allows the expediting of patents.

“There are many positive aspects of patent reform, which introduced the most dramatic changes to patent law in over 50 years,” says Sosenko, who leads Brinks’ Patent Reform Task Force. “One that can protect the intellectual property rights of companies fairly quickly is a change called prioritized examinations, which sends patents to the front of the line for an additional fee and has the potential to be a valuable tool for patent filers who need to obtain patents on their inventions quickly.”

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Currently, it takes about three years to obtain a final decision from the Patent Office on whether a patent will be issued or denied, which is why prioritized examination was introduced. According to information found on the U.S. Patent Office Web site, “When an applicant opts in to prioritized examination, the application will be accorded special status during prosecution before the patent examiner. The goal is to provide a final disposition within 12 months, on average, of prioritized status being granted.  A maximum of 10,000 requests will be granted per fiscal year, although the USPTO may choose to revise that cap in the future.”

The 12 month figure notwithstanding, Sosenko notes he has seen recent statistics citing that first office actions are being issued within a little over one month from the granting of a prioritized examination request, with final decisions being received on average in less than four and a half months.

Michigan has dozens of companies that should be looking at the prioritized examination option now, according to Sosenko.

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“Michigan is on a roll again and protected innovation remains a critical component of the state’s ultimate return as a job hub and Intellectual Property leader,” says Sosenko. “That’s likely one of the reasons a satellite patent office was opened in Detroit. For Michigan companies with fast-paced technologies, those needing protection on their technologies in order to obtain funding, and for the myriad new technologies arising from university spin-offs at our higher education research institutions, the extra investment up front is well worth having the patent in hand.”

The cost for prioritized examinations is based on company size. Large entity companies, those with more than 500 employees, pay $4,800 while small entity companies get a half-price discount and pay $2,400.

Brinks has more than 140 attorneys, scientific advisors and patent agents who specialize in intellectual property, making it one of the largest intellectual property law firms in the United States. Clients around the world use Brinks to help them identify, protect, manage and enforce their intellectual property. Brinks lawyers provide expertise in all aspects of patent, trademark, unfair competition, trade secret and copyright law.

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