The US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) launched the Semiconductor Technology Pilot Program on December 1, 2023 for patent applications for processes or apparatuses for manufacturing semiconductor devices. Applications that meet the requirements will be advanced out of turn for examination (granted special status) until a first Office Action is issued.  

The program aims to foster advancement in the semiconductor industry by facilitating the examination of patent applications related to certain semiconductor manufacturing innovations. The program is intended to reinforce the Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors (CHIPS) Act of 2022 and Biden's 2022 Executive Order 14080, which administers the incentives for semiconductor production set out by the CHIPS Act. 

The application must meet the technology requirement, which is primarily focused on the manufacturing of semiconductor devices. Eligible applications are (1) non-continuing original utility non-provisional applications and (2) original utility nonprovisional applications that claim the benefit of only one prior application that is either a nonprovisional application or an international application designating the US. Applicants must file a certification and petition to make special with the application (or entry into the US national stage), or within 30 days thereof. The petition fee has been waived. There are requirements regarding the claims. The new petition form setting forth all the requirements for this program is available via the above link.

The USPTO will accept petitions until December 2, 2024, or until 1,000 applications have been granted special status under this program, whichever comes first.