Tracking Down a Quick Patenting Route
Updated: Jan 27
These days, anyone planning a large event or managing a site where numerous people congregate or move about has to grapple with issues of safety including detection of threats coming from within the crowd itself. A recently developed technique to meet today's challenges to patrol a crowded venue has come out of the College of Veterinary Medicine at Auburn University. It is called vapor wake detection, and is referred to as a "dog driven detection method" because the dog is positioned and detects scent in the air in a crowd of moving people as they go by. If a scent is detected, the dog will lead the handler while following the trail of that scent to its source; rather than the handler leading a dog by, or to, specific subjects or locations to be checked. The University obtained four U.S. patents (US 8,931,327; US 8,959,982; US 9,763,426 and US 10,123,509) for methods of vapor wake detection; and has one pending patent application (US 2019/0069516) based on research at AU's Canine Performance Sciences program. Labradors from the University's breeding program make up the majority of the dogs that are put through a rigorous 18-month vapor wake detection training program and then made available to assist in protecting venues with large crowds of people like sporting events, airports, parades and concerts.
The University's first patent application covering their new tracking technique was filed in 2010; but no patent issued until 2015. In fact there was so much governmental delay in processing the application, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) tacked on 944 extra days to the twenty-year term of the '327 patent. To prevent more delays, the University took a faster route to get their subsequent patents. They filed requests for prioritized examination (referred to as Track One) by paying additional filing fees and meeting certain requirements for each of their other patent applications. If a Track One request is granted, the USPTO makes every effort to determine whether the invention is patentable or not within twelve months of the granting of the Track One prioritized examination request. As a result of Track One status, the '982 patent was granted 14 months after filing, the '426 patent was granted 13 months after filing and the '509 patent was also granted 14 months after filing. How apt that tracking method patents were obtained using the Track One procedure!
If you need to patent your invention as quickly as possible, consider applying for Track One status. A note of caution - one of the biggest hurdles to expedited patent examination in the US is the cost. The fee for making the request ranges from $1,000 up to $4,000 depending upon whether the owner of the invention is a large company, a small company or an independent inventor. Contact your patent attorney to get complete details and advice on whether filing a Track One request is appropriate for your circumstances.