n March 2021, Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Tom Cotton (R-AR) asked interim Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Drew Hirshfeld to “initiate a pilot program directing examiners to apply a sequenced approach to patent examination,” rather than the traditional “compact approach.” In response to that request, the USPTO today announced a “Deferred Subject Matter Eligibility Response (DSMER) Pilot Program” for nonprovisional patent applications, which is set to launch on February 1, 2022. According to the Federal Register Notice, pilot participants will be “permitted to defer responding to [subject matter eligibility] SME rejections until the earlier of final disposition of the application, or the withdrawal or obviation of all other outstanding rejections.” Applicants with qualifying applications—including a requirement that the first Office action on the merits makes both SME and non-SME rejections—will receive invitations to participate in the pilot.

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