Office of Patent Examination Policy
Office of Petitions
The Office of Petitions, under the authority of the Associate Commissioner of Patent Examination Policy (ACPEP), reviews and decides petitions, requests, and related inquiries, regarding the filing of patent applications, revival of abandoned applications, reinstatement of expired patents, withdrawal of patent applications from issue, small entity entitlement, review of previous decisions of the Technology Centers, suspension of regulations, and questions not specifically provided for by regulations.
Office of Patent Legal Administration
The mission of the Office of Patent Legal Administration (OPLA) is to assist in the development and administration of U.S. patent law, advise the USPTO on patent examination policy and formulate new regulations, policies, and procedures regarding patents.
The OPLA has the following responsibilities:
- Provides legal and policy guidance to the Commissioner for Patents, the Deputy Commissioner for Patents, the Associate Commissioner for Patent Examination Policy, and the Associated Commissioner for Resources and Planning.
- Assists in the development and implementation of patent law, provides means for its implementation, and formulates the accompanying regulations and practices.
- Monitors specialized programs such as reexamination, reissue and patent term extension; and assists in the efforts to negotiate the harmonization of patent laws and other international matters.
- Provides MPEP staff with suggested changes to the MPEP as a result of changes to the patent rules.
- Is also responsible for updating a majority of forms used by the patent examining corps and USPTO customers to reflect changes made to the patent rules and through policy initiatives.
- Legal advisors and special projects examiner provide staff assistance on special projects or studies as may be assigned by the Director of the OPLA, the Associate Commissioner for Patent Examination Policy or the Commissioner for Patents. They also prepare reports or other documents as may be appropriate including studies and papers comparing US patent law and practices with the patent laws of other countries.
- Staff research case law, appropriate rules, facts-in-evidence, and other pertinent information; discuss policy implications with top USPTO management officials; compose USPTO decisions and either sign the decisions or have the final USPTO decision signed by the Deputy Commissioner for Patent Examination Policy or other top US Patent and Trademark Office management officials.
- Staff represent the USPTO and explain US patent law and Office policies and procedures in letters, phone calls, lectures and other contacts with members of the public and the patent bar.
- Staff decide various petitions and assist the Office of Petitions in deciding petitions, which have been delegated to that office for consideration.
Manual of Patent Examining Procedure (MPEP) Staff
The MPEP staff organization works directly for the Associate Commissioner for Patent Examination Policy and provides staff assistance in developing and formulating new guidelines, examining practices and procedures as well as revising existing guidelines, practices and procedures. The MPEP staff is responsible for updating the MPEP and the form paragraphs used by the examining corps. The MPEP staff is also responsible for ensuring that revised policies and procedures are appropriately disseminated to Office personnel through revisions to the MPEP, Federal Register or Official Gazette notices, or other official announcements. The MPEP staff also handles inquiries from Office personnel and the public requesting assistance in properly interpreting existing practices and procedures.
Office of Patent Quality Assurance
The Office of Patent Quality Assurance (OPQA), under the authority of the Associate Commissioner for Patent Examination Policy, reviews a random sample of patent examiners' work product to provide timely, reliable and meaningful indicators of examination quality. In addition, OPQA develops data-driven improvement strategies and assists the Patents business unit in the training of examiners and the implementation of quality initiatives.