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Trademark Performance

 

The core process within the Trademark organization is the examination of applications for trademark registration. As part of that examination, examining attorneys must make determinations of registerability under the provisions of the Trademark Act of 1946, as amended, including searching the electronic databases for any pending or registered marks that are confusingly similar to the mark in a subject application, preparing letters informing applicants of the attorney's findings, approving applications to be published for opposition, and examining Statements of Use in applications filed under the Intent-to-Use provisions of the Trademark Act.

The Trademark organization has made significant progress towards achieving the e-Government objectives of the 21st Century Strategic Plan , which relies on electronic communications to offer market-based services and improve the availability of trademark information to more effectively serve an increasingly larger, global client-base. Electronic access increases the opportunity for filing for federal registration, which provides protection to business owners and consumers by providing notice of marks in use. Electronic filing and information systems serve customers in two very important ways, by improving the time and accessibility of information and by improving the quality of the initial application. Therefore, the quality of the data that is captured and shared in the publication and registration of trademarks.

The USPTO has discontinued the practice of creating and maintaining paper file copies of trademark applications and now relies exclusively on trademark data submitted or captured electronically to support trademark examination, publication of documents, and granting of registrations. This change in practice is in recognition of the progress made in creating and using electronic records to process and examine applications filed for the registration of a trademark. A complete electronic records database covering all trademark applications, including ongoing correspondence, was created by capturing the text and image of nearly 500,000 pending paper files and documents. The database supports paperless examination as the source of application records used within the trademark organization. It is currently accessible to the public through our Search Library with plans to expand access to everyone next year through the USPTO website.

Electronic systems were upgraded to increase the number and type of transactions that could be completed by examiners concurrent with the establishment of an electronic consolidated docket. This is a significant process change that will provide the capability to manage all examiner actions and dockets in a completely electronic environment as well as manage the assignment of new applications. This change improves workflow functionality and eliminates the need to have paper files to manage the work and take office actions for the core trademark examination process. Electronic docket management ensures consistency for the initial examination based on filing date order, regardless of the law office to which the examiner is assigned. Consolidation was necessary prior to the October 2004, relocation of the Trademark organization to the new USPTO headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia to ensure efficient space use at our new headquarters.

Electronic communications make it possible to conduct a preliminary search prior to filing an application; determine the status of pending and registered trademarks; respond to office actions; access general information, examiner manuals, treaties, laws and regulations; obtain weekly information on marks published, registered and renewed; file initial applications; and maintain a registered mark through the USPTO website. The USPTO publishes a weekly Trademark Official Gazette that contains information covering several thousand marks and other office actions electronically. The weekly publication is fully electronic; text and images that contain the layout are extracted from electronic records and sent to the Government Printing Office for printing registration certificates. The weekly Trademark Official Gazette, Registration Certificates and Updated Registration Certificates for the five most recent weekly issues are available electronically on the USPTO website. The entire publication, including Registration Certificates, is available as a PDF file that can be downloaded via the Internet for free, providing expanded as well as more timely access to trademark information.

The USPTO achieved several milestones by expanding the content and accessibility of trademark information in the past year. In the six years since electronic filing first became available, about 500,000 applications, including more than 625,000 classes, have been filed electronically for the registration of a trademark. Today, more than 70 percent of all new trademark applications are filed electronically through the award-winning TEAS, an increase of more than 25 percent over fiscal year 2003 results.

Over the past year, the Trademark organization has continued to enhance the features available to the public, as well as working to ensure the overall transformation of the Trademark organization as an effective e-Government operation. Twenty-one electronic TEAS forms are now available. Seven new forms have been added in the past year, expanding the number and type of transactions that can be completed online. The availability of more types of transactions, as well as the convenience of trademark related information available via the Internet improves our ability to provide timely and useful information, while stimulating demand for more services.

Madrid Protocol

The U.S. became a member of the Madrid Protocol on November 2, 2003. All the legal requirements for implementing the Madrid Protocol in the U.S. were met to ensure implementation on the effective date. The process of registering trademarks in one or more of the 61 member countries has been greatly improved for U.S. business owners who are now able to file a single application with the USPTO in English, pay the International Bureau of the WIPO in swiss francs, and potentially have their mark protected in any or all of the countries that are members of the Madrid Protocol. Non-U.S. trademark owners of member countries may elect to seek an extension of protection of their international registration in the U.S. by filing through the International Bureau of the WIPO. The USPTO received 1,572 international applications and 4,822 requests for extension of protection or subsequent designation containing 9,198 classes from the International Bureau in the first 11 months under the Madrid Protocol.

Trilateral Project

Representatives from the USPTO, the European Union's Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM), and the Japan Patent Office (JPO), completed the first phase of the harmonization of identifications and classification project in May. The objective of the Trilateral Identification and Classification Manual Project is to make the trademark application and examination process easier by agreeing on the acceptability of certain identifications of goods and services for use in all three offices. The Trademark Identification Manual was updated to incorporate identifications for goods and services that have been accepted in the first phase of this ongoing project.

Photo showing the Trademark Trilateral meeting in May where the first phase of the harmonization of identifications and classification project was completed.

At the Trademark Trilateral meeting in May the first phase of the harmonization of identifications and classification project was completed.

 

Paralegal Examination

A pilot program was conducted to evaluate the use of paralegals to perform some aspects of examination related to the USPTO's 21st Century Strategic Plan initiative “transforming work: the e-Government workplace.” Four paralegals examined statements of use in phase one of the pilot. An evaluation of the pilot program results will be prepared prior to making any decisions to change how examination is conducted.

Quality

During the past year, the Trademark organization worked to establish a more consistent measure that would better reflect the current quality of examination. The new criteria expand on the issues that are considered for determining the quality of in-process first and final office actions as “excellent” and “deficient” to better reflect more meaningful and rigorous standards of quality. The information from these reviews has been used to identify and focus training to enhance overall product quality and to improve the consistency of examination. Seven training modules under sections 2(a) and (d) of the Trademark Act were prepared to address some of the recurring problems that were identified based on analyses of the reviews. Examiners are required to take a series of self-paced tutorials, as part of the USPTO's commitment to improve the quality of examination and ensure that all examiners possess the knowledge and skills necessary to perform their jobs.

Customer Call Center

The USPTO installed a modern call center system with customer relationship management technology to enhance its effectiveness in handling and responding to customer calls and inquiries. The system is a state-of-the-art web-based information system that enables agents to manage customer data, track problems, fulfill information requests, answer e-mails, and provide consistent information. Data is used to identify trends, conduct root cause analysis, track problem resolution, and take action to prevent and eliminate the reoccurrence of problems.

Telecommuting

The USPTO continues to gain recognition as a leader in the federal government for its successful telecommuting program. The Trademark telecommuting program was designed so that examiners could perform the same work and access the same IT systems from home as they do in the office. Examiners participating in the trademark work-at-home-program work from home for a majority of the workweek using an automated reservation system to assign office space on an as-needed basis. The program met its objective to greatly reduce office space requirements and costs, and was expanded to 150 examiners following system enhancements and the approval of a new agreement. The program will be expanded in fiscal year 2005 to include other employees throughout the Trademark organization.

The USPTO received the "Best Organization for Teleworkers" award from the Mid-Atlantic Telework Advisory Council on November 7, 2003. The Council is dedicated to encouraging professional development of telecommuting programs. The USPTO was recognized for the agency's results-oriented telework program as a best business practice.

Filings

New application filings for trademark registration increased by 11.7 percent in the past year, the most significant increase since fiscal year 1999 and 2000, when filings increased 27 percent over two consecutive years. The USPTO received 244,848 trademark applications, including 298,489 classes for registration in fiscal year 2004, 9.7 percent above target.

Office Disposals

Total office disposals were 211,062, including 265,922 classes, 17 percent above target. Registrations declined by more than 16 percent to 120,056, including 155,991 classes, as the number of pending applications remaining from prior years with higher filings were disposed.

Pending Inventory

Total trademark applications pending in the USPTO increased by 4.3 percent in fiscal year 2004 to 450,294, with 590,155 classes. The total classes increased 2.5 percent from fiscal year 2003. Twenty-two percent of the pending file inventory is in a post- Notice of Allowance status, awaiting the filing of a statement of use. The inventory of unexamined applications at the end of the fiscal year was 127,060, containing 151,206 classes, an increase of 38 percent from the prior fiscal year. The increase in unexamined new applications was consistent with the increase in application filings, which was also reflected in the rise in first action pendency.

 

PERFORMANCE GOAL: Improve the quality of trademark products and services and optimize trademark processing time.

Under the 21st Century Strategic Plan , the Trademark organization will enhance quality assurance programs to include a more in-depth review of work in progress. This includes the implementation of in-process reviews that consider all elements of decision making in evaluating examiner first and final office actions. Also, in support of the 21st Century Strategic Plan , the Trademark organization will automate the management of its workflow to reduce processing times. The following performance measures have been established to reflect the USPTO's success and progress in meeting this performance goal.

NEW MEASURE: Trademark First and Final Action Deficiency Rate

The Trademark organization implemented two new measures for assessing examination quality in the past year that includes an evaluation of all issues that could be considered deficient in making a substantive refusal. Evaluations are conducted on a random sample of applications to review the quality of decision making of the examiner's first office action and final refusal (final action). Two thousand two hundred and forty files were reviewed, with 176 files having at least one deficient substantive refusal, for a first action deficiency rate of 7.9 percent. Two thousand two hundred and five files were reviewed, with at least one issue determined in 128 files, for a final action deficiency rate of 5.8 percent. These two measures replace the FY 03 measure “Improve the quality of trademarks by reducing the error rate.”

Customers are rightly concerned with the quality of the products and services they receive in exchange for the fees they pay. The Trademark organization has created a new “in-process review” standard for assessing excellent and deficient work to create a more comprehensive meaningful and rigorous review of what constitutes quality.

FIRST ACTION DEFICIENCY RATE TRADEMARK EXAMINATION
  Graph summarizing the first action deficiency rate for trademarks issued for the last four fiscal years.D

DATA VALIDATION AND VERIFICATION

Data source: Office of Trademark Quality Review Report.

Frequency: Daily input, monthly reporting.

Data storage: Automated systems, reports.

Verification: Manual reports and analysis.

Data Limitations: None.

Target and Actual First Action Deficiency Rates
for Trademarks Issued for the Last 4 Fiscal Years
  FY 2001 FY 2002 FY 2003 FY 2004
Target - - - 8.3%
Actual - - - 7.9% met

   Discussion: Target met. The results of an examiner's first action are reviewed for the quality of the substantive basis for decision-making, search strategy, evidence, and writing. The new measure considers more elements for review and evaluation with training targeted to topics that warrant improvement. Examiners are given specific feedback about excellent as well as deficient work to further improve quality.

 

FINAL ACTION DEFICIENCY RATE TRADEMARK EXAMINATION
  D

DATA VALIDATION AND VERIFICATION

Data source: Office of Trademark Quality Review Report.

Frequency: Daily input, monthly reporting.

Data storage: Automated systems, reports.

Verification: Manual reports and analysis.

Data Limitations: None.

Target and Actual Final Action Deficiency Rates
for Trademarks Issued for the Last 4 Fiscal Years
  FY 2001 FY 2002 FY 2003 FY 2004
Target - - - 5.0%
Actual - - - 5.8% not met

   Discussion: Target not met. Customers are rightly concerned with the quality of the products and services they receive in exchange for the fees they pay. The Trademark organization has created a new “in-process review” for assessing excellent and deficient work to create a more comprehensive meaningful and rigorous review of what constitutes quality. The results of examiner final refusal are reviewed for the quality of the substantive basis for decision making, search strategy, evidence, and writing. The new measure considers more elements for review and evaluation with training targeted to topics that warrant improvement. Examiners are given specific feedback about excellent as well as deficient work to further improve quality. Several e-learning training modules have been developed to address examination quality issues and will be released to examining attorneys in FY 2005. The learning modules address examination issues that currently have the largest impact on examination quality. In addition to training modules, the Office of Trademark Quality Review has begun issuing policy papers and examination tips aimed at correcting procedural deficiencies.

 

MEASURE: Reduce Average First Action Pendency (months)

This measure reflects the timeliness of the first office action as measured from the date of application filing to the mailing of the first action.

TRADEMARK FIRST ACTION PENDENCY
 Graph summarizing the first action pendency for trademarks issued for the last four fiscal years.D

DATA VALIDATION AND VERIFICATION

Data source: Trademark Reporting and Monitoring (TRAM) system.

Frequency: Daily input, monthly reporting.

Data storage: TRAM, automated systems, reports.

Verification: Accuracy of supporting data is controlled through internal program edits in the TRAM system. Program management performs final test for reasonableness.

Data Limitations: None.

Target and Actual Trademark First Action Pendency
for the Last 4 Fiscal Years
  FY 2001 FY 2002 FY 2003 FY 2004
Target 6.6 3.0 3.0 5.4
Actual 2.7 4.3 5.4 6.6 not met

   Discussion: Target not met. Although the trademark organization fully met and exceeded production output targets, new application filings drove first action pendency above target. New application filings were 11.7% above the prior year and 9.7% above target. Process changes introduced in the fourth quarter further contributed to the increase in first action pendency results. Current plans, assuming sufficient funding, are to hire additional examiners in FY 2005 to address the increase in filings which will improve first action pendency.

 

MEASURE: Reduce average total pendency (months)

This measure reflects the timeliness related to the disposal of a trademark application, as measured from the date of filing to registration, abandonment or issuance of a notice of allowance including applications that are suspended awaiting further action or involved in inter partes proceedings.

TOTAL TRADEMARK PENDENCY
  D

DATA VALIDATION AND VERIFICATION

Data source: TRAM system.

Frequency: Daily input, monthly reporting.

Data storage: TRAM, automated systems, reports.

Verification: Accuracy of supporting data is controlled through internal program edits in the TRAM system. Program management performs final test for reasonableness.

Data Limitations: None.

Target and Actual Total Trademark Pendency
for the Last 4 Fiscal Years
  FY 2001 FY 2002 FY 2003 FY 2004
Target 18.0 15.5 15.5 21.6
Actual 17.8 19.9 19.8 19.5 met  Read Footnote 1 1
   Discussion: Target met. Production and office disposals were above plan, which reduced disposal and registration pendency.
  Note 1: If applications that were suspended or delayed for inter partes proceedings were excluded from the calculation, disposal pendency would be 16.2 months.  (back to text)

 

MEASURE: Efficiency

This measure is a relative indicator of the efficiency of the trademark process as measured by the total annual cost of programs that support the examination and registration of trademarks compared to its annual core outputs.

EFFICIENCY
 Graph summarizing the efficiency rates for trademarks issued for the last four fiscal years. D

DATA VALIDATION AND VERIFICATION

Data source: TRAM system, Momentum, Metify ABM.

Frequency: Daily input, quarterly reporting.

Data storage: TRAM, Data Warehouse, Metify ABM.

Verification: Accuracy of supporting data is controlled through internal program edits in TRAM, Momemtum, Metify ABM. Quality control review of data by ABC and Program Business Teams.

Data Limitations: None.

Target and Actual Efficiency Rates for Trademarks Issued
for the Last 4 Fiscal Years
  FY 2001 FY 2002 FY 2003 FY 2004
Target - - $683 $583
Actual $501 $487 $433 $539 met

   Discussion: Target met. This measure is a relative indicator of the efficiency of the trademark process, which indicates the degree to which the program can operate within plan costs relative to outputs produced. Actual costs on a unit basis were less than plan because office disposals were 17% above plan. The measure is calculated by dividing total USPTO expenses associated with the examination and processing of trademarks, including associated overhead and support expenses, by outputs (office disposals). The target is calculated by dividing the enacted budget by the planned number of office disposals. The total annual USPTO expenses display the full program costs that include the cost to the Federal government of providing pension and post-retirement health and life insurance benefits to eligible USPTO employees. These costs are not included in the enacted budget that was used to develop the efficiency measure target. Although the Trademark efficiency measure is already within target, if actual expenses were reduced by these benefit costs, the actual trademark efficiency measure would be $519, an even better result.

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Last Modified: 10/5/2009 10:22:44 AM