The Patent Organization Whats Ahead
T he USPTO must address the challenges of rising workloads, the shift of applications from traditional arts to more complex technologies, and the reality that limitations and delays placed on Strategic Plan initiatives may delay the efficiency gains outlined in the Plan.
In fiscal year 2005, we will continue the quality efforts currently implemented, including the certification of examiners before the delegation of legal competency, recertification of primary examiners once every three years and review of work product throughout prosecution to ensure compliance with examination practice and procedures standards. Additionally, we will explore ways of automating pre-employment assessment of patent examiner applicants to make sure they have the needed competencies. In combination, these quality initiatives will provide improved patent quality by providing review of work product, feedback to examiners on areas for improvement, targeted training, and safeguards to ensure competencies.
Both the Patent and Trademark operations are rapidly moving to eliminate paper documents from their processes. As the reliance on paper disappears from internal processes, the costs for handling applications and related materials will be substantially reduced. Electronic communications will be improved, encouraging more applicants to do business electronically with the delivery of web-based text and image systems.
The technology being protected by patent rights has become increasingly complex, and demands from the public for higher quality products and services have grown in importance. In the U.S., demands for products and services have created substantial workload challenges in the processing of patents. The Congress, the owners of intellectual property, the patent bar, and the public-at-large have all told USPTO that it must address these challenges aggressively and promptly. Full funding and implementation of the 21st Century Strategic Plan initiatives and timeframes will address these challenges and will transform the USPTO into a quality-driven, highly-productive, and efficient organization that will promote expansion of business opportunities, stimulate research and development, and expand U.S. businesses globally.
With enactment of proposed legislation changing the USPTO current fee schedule, revisions to current rules, and legislation streamlining the patent system, the USPTO will change its processes and hire sufficient numbers of new highly qualified patent examiners to control patent pendency and reduce the time to first office action.