Prioritized Examination – 12/4/12

Published on Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

Prioritized Examination: How It Can Give Game Developers a Competitive Advantage

Guest blog by Chinh Pham, Patent Attorney and Shareholder, Greenberg Traurig - Boston

 In the fast-paced world of video gaming, developing a strong patent strategy can provide video game companies with a competitive edge.  The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) provides a number of options to expedite the patenting process.  Video game companies should weigh the benefits of a new USPTO program called Prioritized Examination. The Prioritized Examination (PE) process allows a patent application to be placed on an expedited track where a final disposition will be provided within 12 months of filing.  For a nominal fee of $4,800 ($2,400 for small entities), this can be a quick, inexpensive option for removing the application from the traditional route where it now must wait in queue for 2-4 years on average before it is examined.

Because issued patents enjoy a presumption of validity, and have a more defined scope of claim coverage than pending applications, those applications that issue as patents quickly will enable inventors and companies to more effectively market and protect their products that may be constantly subject to improvements, redesigns and replacements.

PE is valuable to video game companies that are seeking to leverage patent rights to establish and maintain their competitive position in a fast-changing market.  In particular, with an issued patent, a startup video game company will be better positioned for investment considerations; a growth-stage video game company may be enabled to identify more partnership and cross-licensing opportunities; and an established video game company will be able to better defend itself against potential infringers.  Again, because issued patents have less uncertainty than pending applications, they are viewed more favorably by investors and licensees, while being more deterrent to infringers.

To maximize the benefits of PE, video game companies should start reviewing their patent strategies to identify any pending innovations or developments that can take advantage of expedited examination.  Should companies decide to file new patent applications, attention should be taken in regards to the most relevant prior art, while it is suggested that a set of claims focusing on features best likely to be allowed be presented in the applications to minimize any procedural barriers.

As the trend in gaming continues to shift toward mobile, social, and interactive games, game developers should consider developing an intellectual property protection strategy in the US.  Video game companies should also weigh the benefits of Prioritized Examination. In the end, developing a strong patent strategy can provide game companies with the edge they need to succeed against the competition.

Greenberg Traurig’s Video Gaming and Interactive Media Team will keep you informed of new patent reform provisions that impact your ability to build a strong intellectual property portfolio. For more information, feel free to contact me directly at phamc@gtlaw.com.

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