eGovernment - Technology Advancing Technology
The theme of the USPTO’s FY 2001 Accountability Report is "e-Government – Technology Advancing Technology." Therefore, discussion of major information technology (IT) advances made this year in the patent and trademark businesses is appropriate.
The USPTO has undertaken major projects to come to grips with the challenges of an IT-driven economy. In doing so, it has emerged as a leader in e-Government initiatives. The USPTO has applied technology that has facilitated examiners’ searches of prior art relevant to patentability and of potentially conflicting marks relevant to the registrability of trademarks. Enhanced technology also has allowed filing of both patent and trademark applications over the Internet, thereby increasing the efficiency of interactions between the public and the USPTO.
CIO Management Team: Wesley H. Gewehr; Doug Bourgeois, Chief Information Officer; and Ron Hack
The patent business has moved aggressively to conduct business in an e-Government environment. In October 2000, the Electronic Filing System (EFS) was released to full production on schedule. EFS provides for the electronic filing of new utility and pre-grant publication applications. By the end of FY 2001, there were more than 2,000 applications filed electronically. In addition, the patent business continued to expand its EFS outreach and marketing effort. This past year, they visited 16 cities for two-day outreach workshops covering AIPA, the Electronic Business Center (EBC), and EFS. These workshops had a 98 percent satisfaction rating by the 3,200 attendees and 88 percent of EFS filings (November 2000 - July 2001) were from outreach states (26 on-demand workshops, conducted by the USPTO and sponsored by law firms and associations, along with customized workshops and 10 EFS hands-on training classes). The EBC, which operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week (24/7), also was established to issue customer numbers and digital certificates. The EBC has provided assistance to over 4,200 callers.
Another major focus of patent business e-Government activities was to reduce internal USPTO administrative costs and enhance quality. Toward this end, a development effort for an electronic patent application processing and workflow system was initiated. Tools for Electronic Application Management (TEAM) is the centerpiece of the electronic workplace environment for the paperless processing of electronically submitted patent applications and follow-on papers throughout their entire life cycle from authoring by patent business customers to patent grant and publication and electronic records archival. TEAM will enable customers and internal users to electronically access official and work-in-process application content and track application status before and after publication. TEAM also will enable the USPTO to conduct business electronically with customers and business partners in a secure manner, and will reflect the entire official prosecution history. The goal is to put TEAM into production in FY 2004.
Patent business operations continued to enhance the following IT systems.
Patent Application Information Retrieval (PAIR) System.
The PAIR system provides patent applicants with the ability to review the status of their pending patent applications online, via the Internet, 24/7. PAIR provides real time workflow tracking information, records communications sent from the USPTO to applicants, and logs receipt of hard copy documentation from applicants.
Electronic Filing System.
EFS provides the secure electronic filing of patent applications via the Internet from anywhere in the world, 24/7. Using Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) technology, the confidentiality of sensitive application data is maintained. EFS is a key first step in building an e-Government environment for the USPTO’s customers.
Patent Image Capture System (PICS).
PICS scans all incoming patent applications, providing retrievable image records. These application image records are used to respond to customer requests for quality certified copies of patent applications as filed. PICS images also are used by patent examiners for security screening of application content, eliminating the need for transporting the paper patent application file wrappers.
Examiners Automated Search System (EAST) and Web-based Examiner Search System (WEST).
These two key automated search systems provide every patent examiner with desktop access to all U.S. patents, EPO and JPO documents back to 1920, as well as additional patent databases. EAST and WEST will permit the USPTO to move toward essentially "paperless" searching.
Office Action Correspondence Subsystem (OACS).
The OACS enables communications from patent examiners to be created and stored electronically. OACS provides examiners with up-to-date form paragraphs and official forms, and general automated assistance in creating official correspondence with patent applicants.
PRINGLES and design owned by Procter & Gamble Company Application Serial No. 78033141 for snack foods, namely, potato chips and potato crisps
GE script & design owned by General Electric Company Application Serial No. 78067128 for use with various plastic products
Mattel, Inc. was the top electronic filer for fiscal year 2001, filing a total of 837 electronic trademark applications.
General Electric received a plaque at a ceremony commemorating the 100,000 electronic trademark filing. From left to right Acting Under Secretary Nicholas Godici; Kathyrn B. Park, Chief Trademark Counsel for GE; Ron Myrick, Chief Intellectual Property Counsel for GE; and Anne Chasser, Commissioner for Trademarks.
The trademark business continued its transformation to a totally e-Government operation by expanding and improving upon the availability of trademark information accessed through the Internet. The trademark business exploited the concept of e-Government for use as a tool to more effectively serve an increasingly larger, global client-base, and to extend 24 hour-a-day access to trademark information for external customers, regardless of their location. Electronic filing and information systems serve customers in two very important ways: (1) reducing the time to provide access to current information, and (2) improving the quality of the initial application and therefore the quality of the data that is captured and shared in the publication and registration of trademarks.
The trademark business continued to promote the benefits of e-Government by striving to create a single approach for serving all customers, relying on effective use of IT and the resources available at the USPTO Web site. Short- and long-term operational and process changes are designed to support electronic filing and increase electronic communication with USPTO customers. The goal is to perform nearly all communications with trademark customers electronically by FY 2004. A major effort to help the trademark business achieve this goal is the Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS). TEAS received more than 20,600 application filings in its first year of operation. In the second year of operation (FY 2000), application filings through TEAS more than doubled to over 44,100 filings. In FY 2001, the trademark business received nearly 58,000 applications electronically, including more than 61,000 classes for the registration of a trademark. To foster continuous improvement of this important e-Government initiative, additional trademark forms were added and promotional events were held to encourage use.
The number of electronically filed applications submitted through TEAS accounted for 24 percent of all new applications filed, short of the goal to achieve 30 percent of filings electronically in FY 2001. While pro se applicants and corporations were initially the primary users of TEAS, by the end of the fiscal year, applications submitted by attorneys had risen to nearly 50 percent. As a result of increased filings, a third law office within the USPTO was dedicated solely to the processing of applications received electronically. The USPTO is committed to enhancing TEAS, as well as encouraging greater acceptance and use for the benefit of all those who use trademark information.
Electronic access to trademark information is the basis for the trademark business transformation to an e-Government operation. The trademark business has made significant progress in the use of electronic solutions to deliver greater efficiencies and convenience to customers and to provide employees with the tools and technologies they need to perform their jobs.
All of the trademarks depicted in this year's Annual Report were filed using TEAS, the Trademark Electronic Application System. The marks represent submissions from seven of the top 10 electronic filers for FY 2001.
LIFE SAVERS GUMMIES owned by Nabisco Brands Company now owned by Kraft Foods Holdings, Inc. Application Serial No. 78035064 for candy
PAMPERS PULL UPS & design owned by Procter & Gamble Company Application Serial No. 78024495 for disposable diapers
MISCELLANEOUS LEAF DESIGN owned by Novartis AG CORPORATION Application Serial No. 78074268 for pharmaceutical products, namely, dermatological preparations
GM & design owned by General Motors Corporation Application Serial No. 78063881 for clothing, namely, aprons, caps, coats, dress shirts, gloves, golf shirts, hats, headbands, jackets, moccasins, neckties, overalls, pants, polo shirts, rainwear, robes, scarves, shoes, shorts, sleep wear, slippers, socks, sun-visors, sweat pants, sweat shirts, sweaters, t-shirts and vests
MILK-BONE owned by Nabisco Brands Company Application Serial No. 78072491, Registration No. 2534344 for pet toys
RESCUE HEROES owned by Mattel, Inc. Application Serial No. 78032442 for inflatable children's play sets and children's play spaces in the shape of vehicles, castles, farms, houses, animals and the like
VIACOM owned by Viacom International, Inc. Application Serial No. 78050028 for dissemination of out of home advertising for others on billboards, busses, railways and street furniture
Dr. Samuel W. Bodman, Deputy Secretary of Commerce, learns more about the trademark electronic filing system during a visit to the USPTO in August last year.
Trademark business operations continued to enhance the following IT systems.
Trademark Electronic Business Center.
This free "storefront" service utilizes an Internet browser to search and retrieve information necessary to prepare and file nearly all required trademark application forms, and access status information related to their applications online. They also can search the text and images of more than three million trademark records. Customers can pay for products and services, and order and receive trademark products electronically via the Internet.
Trademark Electronic Application System.
The TEAS system allows anyone to file online applications for the registration of a trademark, extensions and statements of use for intent-to-use filings and file for renewal of their trademark. In the past year, the trademark business has enhanced the number and type of forms available as well as the amount and type of information that is available electronically.
Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS).
TESS system allows anyone to search the records of more than three million pending, registered, abandoned, cancelled or expired trademarks. TESS makes available to the public the entire database and search system used by USPTO trademark examining attorneys for making decisions regarding the registrability of a mark. In FY 2001, the number of search transactions initiated by public users averaged 1.1 million per month, an increase of 150 percent over FY 2000.
Trademark Application Registration Retrieval (TARR).
TARR allows anyone to search the status of pending and registered trademarks available.
OnLine Trademark Official Gazette (TMOG).
In the past year, a major publication was made available in a searchable "online" Portable Document Format (PDF) directly from the USPTO Web site. The TMOG, which includes marks that are published for opposition, registered and renewed, is posted weekly along with the four prior issues, for a rotating total of five issues. Internet access to weekly trademark information expands the offerings available that provide customers with searchable access to the entire database of pending and registered trademarks through TESS, and access to application and registration status through TARR.