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Semiconductor Technology Pilot Program

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has announced the Semiconductor Technology Pilot Program which is designed to support the Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors (CHIPS) Act of 2022.

Under this pilot program, qualifying applications involving technologies directed to certain processes or apparatuses for manufacturing semiconductor devices will be advanced out of turn for examination (i.e., granted special status) until a first Office action is issued.

This program is applicable to i) non-continuing original utility nonprovisional applications; and ii) original utility nonprovisional applications that claim the benefit of the filing date of only one prior application that is either a nonprovisional application or an international application designating the United States.

The application must contain at least one claim that covers a process or an apparatus for manufacturing a semiconductor device and corresponds to one or more of the technical concepts within H10 (Semiconductor Devices; Electric Solid-State Devices Not Otherwise Provided For) or H01L (Semiconductor Devices Not Covered by Class H10) in the Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC) system.

Applicants must file a timely petition to make special (Form PTO/SB/467) in order to be considered for this program. No fee is required with the petition, and the USPTO will accept petitions under this program until December 2, 2024 or when a total of 1,000 applications have been granted special status under this program, whichever occurs earlier.

The petition must be filed with the application or upon entry into the national stage or within 30 days thereof.

The petition includes the following certifications:

1. The applicant has a good faith belief that the claimed invention(s) meeting the technology requirement of the pilot program improves the manufacturing of semiconductor devices;

2. The process or apparatus covered by the claimed invention(s) meeting the technology requirement of the pilot program is disclosed in the specification as being primarily focused on the manufacturing of semiconductor devices;

3. The applicant has a good faith belief that expediting examination of the application will have a positive impact on the semiconductor manufacturing industry, such as increasing semiconductor device production, lowering semiconductor manufacturing costs, or increasing the resilience of the semiconductor supply chain; and

4. The inventor or any joint inventor has not been named as the inventor or a joint inventor on more than four other nonprovisional applications in which a petition to make special under this pilot program has been filed.

Lastly, the application must be filed electronically using the Patent Center, and its specification, claims, and abstract must be submitted in DOCX format.

The Federal Register regarding the program can be found here.

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