USPTO Announces Semiconductor Technology Pilot Program To Help Fast-Track Innovation

News of the USPTO fast-tracking is surely music to the ears of many North Texas innovators. Just last month, the region was awarded the Texoma Semiconductor 'Fablet' Tech Hub. Meanwhile, TI is building a $30 billion semiconductor campus in Sherman, and GlobiTech is building a $5 billion "fab plant" in the same North Texas city.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office announced a new initiative Thursday to support the Chips for America Program—and North Texas’ burgeoning semiconductor sector is primed to take notice.

To encourage research, development, and innovation in semiconductor manufacturing, the Commerce Department’s USPTO announced a new Semiconductor Technology Pilot Program. 

“The CHIPS and Science Act is a once-in-a generation opportunity to foster a new wave of American innovation, protect our national security, and preserve our global economic competitiveness,” Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said in a statement. “This new USPTO program will ensure we are prioritizing critical intellectual property protections to incentivize investments in domestic semiconductor manufacturing.” 

The pilot program is designed to accelerate improvements in the semiconductor industry by expediting examination of patent applications for certain semiconductor manufacturing innovations, the USPTO said. Qualifying nonprovisional utility patent applications—directed to certain processes and apparatuses for manufacturing semiconductor devices—”will be accorded special status” until a first action.

Applicants aren’t required to satisfy the current requirements of the accelerated examination program or the prioritized examination program to qualify, the USPTO added.

Speeding semiconductor innovations to market

“From innovations in phones to cars to other everyday devices, our goal with this program is to get more cutting-edge technologies into the hands of consumers faster while reducing our dependence on the foreign supply of semiconductor chips,” Kathi Vidal, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO, said in a statement.

“Fast tracking examination of patent applications related to semiconductor device manufacturing speeds bringing key innovations to market and strengthens our nation’s supply chain,” Vidal added.

News hits North Texas right in its semiconductor wheelhouse

Rendering of TI’s new 300-mm semiconductor wafer fabrication plants in Sherman. [Image: Texas Instruments]

News of the USPTO fast-tracking is surely music to the ears of many North Texas innovators. Just last month, the region was awarded the Texoma Semiconductor ‘Fablet’ Tech Hub as part of 31 nationwide tech hubs designated by the Biden-Harris administration. Dallas Innovates told you how Southern Methodist University snagged the Dallas hub’s lead agency role.

The Texoma Semiconductor Tech Hub’s core technology is fablet-based semiconductor manufacturing, and it serves 29 counties across North Central Texas into southern Oklahoma.

North Texas’ link to semiconductors goes way back. Texas Instruments’ Jack Kilby was the engineer and innovator who pioneered the integrated circuit—also called a chip — in 1958.

The region is moving forward big-time on semiconductors as well. In May, we reported that TI was spending $2.2 billion on the initial phase of its $30 billion Sherman semiconductor campus

In October 2022, production began at TI’s newest 300-millimeter wafer fabrication plant in Richardson.

And in June 2022, local firm GlobiTech, a subsidiary of Taiwan-based GlobalWafers, selected Sherman as the site of its new $5 billion silicon wafer manufacturing facility.

You can find out more about the USPTO pilot program by going here.

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