To accelerate innovation in the health and medical fields, the USPTO published a Federal Register Notice announcing a further extension of its Cancer Immunotherapy Pilot Program. Petitions requesting participation in the pilot program that are compliant with the program’s requirements and are filed on or before September 30, 2022, will be accepted.
The USPTO first implemented the Cancer Immunotherapy Pilot Program on June 29, 2016, in support of the White House’s National Cancer Moonshot initiative, which sought to accelerate cancer research. It permits patent applications pertaining to cancer immunotherapy to be advanced out of turn for examination and reviewed earlier (accorded special status). The extension reflects the continued effectiveness of the pilot program. To date, over 835 petitions requesting participation have been filed, and 615 patents have been granted under the pilot. Various stakeholders from around the world—including independent inventors, universities, research institutions, hospitals, medical centers, government agencies, and large and small companies—have filed petitions to participate in the pilot program.
Though all parameters will remain the same as in the original pilot through the September 30, 2022, extension, the USPTO is in the process of deciding whether to expand the scope of the pilot program, including beyond immunotherapy. The USPTO may also further extend the program (with or without modifications), depending on feedback from the participants and the public and the program’s effectiveness. The public comment period will be open until July 29, 2022.