First-Time Filer Expedited Examination Pilot Program can accelerate your path to approval

Say you’ve got a great idea for a product or process that could change the game in your field. You know that patenting your invention would give it much-needed protection as you explore how to move it from product to market, from idea to impact.

But time is an imposing barrier.

Enter the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Its Council for Inclusive Innovation (CI2) First-Time Filer Expedited Examination Pilot Program improves access to the patent application process for participants filing nonprovisional patent applications for the first time.

This pilot program expedites the first office action for a patent application. The “first office action” is a patent examiner’s written initial feedback on the application.

For you, it means less time wondering if your invention is patentable, and a potentially accelerated path to get your game-changing innovation to market.

The USPTO receives approximately 40,000 patent applications per year that name at least one first-time filing inventor. For those who are micro-entity filers, wait times for the patent application process may be an obstacle to commercialization—especially for filers in underserved geographic and economic areas, women, people of color, and veterans.

The First-Time Filer program aims to reduce that barrier and bring these innovations to impact in the marketplace faster.

“This program works to assist independent inventors and small-business owners who are new to the patent process and provide them with the resources they need to protect patentable inventions,” said Kathi Vidal, under secretary of commerce for intellectual property and director of the USPTO. “We hope that the expedited feedback will allow them to make key business decisions at an earlier stage.”

The program will run until March 11, 2024, or until 1,000 patent applications have been accepted into the program. As of August 24, 2023, 27 applications had been granted special status under this program, leaving plenty of room for other first-time filers to take full advantage of the many benefits afforded by intellectual property protection.

To be eligible to participate, you must certify that:

  • You have not been named as the sole inventor or a joint inventor on any other nonprovisional application;
  • You qualify for micro entity status under the gross income basis requirement, and
  • You are reasonably trained on the basics of the USPTO’s patent application process.

To learn more, join the program team virtually on September 26 at 1 p.m. ET for a free webinar. Register to attend at or visit