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Patent Performance for the year 2005

Patent Performance

The principal function of the Patent organization is the examination of an inventor’s application for a patent. Patent examiners compare the claimed subject matter of an application to a large body of technological information to determine whether the claimed invention is new, useful, and non-obvious to someone knowledgeable in that subject matter. The examination process includes the preparation of: correspondence relating to the examination; answers on applications appealed to the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences (BPAI); interference proceedings to determine priority of invention; and Search Reports and International Preliminary Examination Reports for PCT applications.

 

Photo showing Commissioner for Patents John Doll standing with Under Secretary Dudas after completing the swearing in ceremony.

Commissioner for Patents John Doll stands with Under Secretary Dudas after completing the swearing in ceremony.

Additional offices within the Patent organization perform activities essential to the patent process. At the front end, the Office of Initial Patent Examination (OIPE) performs the initial administrative review of newly filed applications. In FY 2005, OIPE received 384,228 Utility, Plant, and Reissue (UPR) patent applications, 25,304 Design applications, as well as 46,926 PCT applications. This represents a 8.1 percent increase over FY 2004 UPR filings; an 7.9 percent increase over FY 2004 design applications; and a 3 percent increase over FY 2004 PCT applications. The Office of Initial Patent Examination performs an initial administrative review of the newly filed applications. Additionally, 111,753 provisional applications were received.

At the back end of the process, the Office of Patent Publications performs post-examination processing of allowed applications, disseminates published applications, and issues patents to the public. In FY 2005, 152,090 UPR and 13,395 Design patents were granted and 291,221 pending applications were published, as provided for in the American Inventors Protection Act (AIPA) of 1999.

PCT Operations and the PCT Legal Administration Office administer the processing of international patent applications. The Search and Information Resources Administration (SIRA) supports examination processes by working closely with the Office of the Chief Information Officer in managing Patent IT activities. SIRA also implements and maintains classification schemes for the efficient retrieval of patent information and other documents residing in the search files. Additionally, SIRA acquires, maintains, and provides access to scientific and technical literature from multiple sources. The Office of Patent Training coordinates the development of curriculums and deployment of training throughout the Patent organization.

Quality is the first priority of the 21st Century Strategic Plan . The Office of Patent Quality Assurance performs a quality review function, comprising reviews of a random sample of both in-process and allowed applications. To ensure that our primary patent examiners maintain the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to perform high quality examinations, the USPTO continued the re-certification program previously implemented, recertifying an additional one third of all primary examiners. A certification-testing program is provided to junior examiners prior to promotion to the level where they are given legal and negotiation authority. Both new first-line and experienced managers attended training to increase the effectiveness of work product reviews and improve coaching skills. The skills of the technical support staff are a vital component of supporting an efficient examination process, and the Patent organization is in the process of assessing the training needs of the technical support staff.

 

 

Photo showing (Left to right) Under Secretary Jon Dudas, Deputy Under Secretary Steve Pinkos, Secretary Gutierrez, and Vice President of Design for Daimler/Chrysler Trevor Creed joining in celebrating the 500,000th U.S. design patent.

(Left to right) Under Secretary Jon Dudas, Deputy Under Secretary Steve Pinkos, Secretary Gutierrez, and Vice President of Design for Daimler/Chrysler Trevor Creed join in celebrating the 500,000th U.S. design patent.

In support of quality examination, during FY 2005, the Patent organization developed a new pre-appeal brief conference pilot program that offers applicants a way to request a panel of managers and examiners to formally review application rejections before they file an appeal brief. The introduction of the pre-appeal brief conference complies with the President's Management Agenda mandate for a more citizen-centered, results-oriented government.

Additionally, during FY 2005, the Patent organization implemented initiatives to improve the quality and timeliness of patent reexaminations. A Central Reexam Unit (CRU) became operational in July of 2005. The CRU has consolidated and reorganized staff for handling new requests for reexamination. This effort included the placement of twenty experienced Primary Examiners in the new CRU to concentrate solely on reexaminations.

With the implementation of the 21st Century Strategic Plan , the USPTO will reduce patent pendency and substantially cut the size of our work backlog. The Office continues to strive to meet its performance goals by hiring sufficient numbers of new patent examiners, exploring work sharing with other patent Offices, administering competitive sourcing of PCT application searches, and implementing variable, incentive-driven fees. The Patent organization exceeded its FY 2005 hiring goal for patent examiners by hiring 978 new Utility, Plant, Reissue and Design examiners. USPTO plans to hire approximately 1,000 new patent examiners over the next year, representing a monumental increase in professional staff.

The USPTO successfully completed deployment of the patent Image File Wrapper (IFW) system in FY 2004, facilitating the electronic processing and management of Patent application files. Electronic capture of all pending paper applications was completed in FY 2005, enabling the electronic management of 96.7 percent of applications undergoing examination. For the first time in FY 2004, the Patent Application Image Retrieval (PAIR) system provided anyone with Internet access the ability to track the status of a public patent application as it moved from pre-grant publication to final disposition. In FY 2005, the Patent organization began development of a web-based Private PAIR to provide applicants with secure private access to their unpublished application documents via the Internet as soon as the application is internally processed. An integral component of this service depended upon upgrades in FY 2005 to the IFW interface system (eDAN). Improvements to eDAN provided additional user functionality and enhanced data sharing with other systems such as PALM, Private PAIR, and Public PAIR. Additionally, a web-based version of the Electronic File System (EFS), is scheduled to be piloted in December 2005 and is expected to be in full production in FY 2006.

To attain our goal of increasing the number of applications filed electronically in FY 2006, the Patent organization held multiple forums in FY 2005 with customer groups to gather requirements for the development of a system that would increase the use of electronic filing by identifying and addressing applicants’ needs. The resulting design for a web-based system with portable document format (PDF) attachments will be complemented by a marketing plan to ensure that our customers are familiar with the benefits of electronic filing.

Photo showing employees from the Office of Human Resources greeting and registering interested candidates during a U S P T O job fair.

Employees from the Office of Human Resources greet and register interested candidates during a USPTO job fair.

In FY 2004, the Patent organization achieved its e-government 21st Century Strategic Plan objectives with all patent examiners, technical staff, and support staff working from an image-based system. Capitalizing on this capability, the organization launched a Patents’ Hoteling Program pilot in FY 2005, providing participants the ability to work at home with full remote access to all systems needed to perform patent-examining functions.

In FY 2005, Patents began a new e-government initiative, Trilateral Document Access (TDA), to facilitate access by patent examiners to the content of patent applications stored in participating foreign intellectual property offices’ application document image systems. The first phase of TDA, File Wrapper Access, was implemented with the European Patent Office (EPO) to allow examiners in both offices to instantly view application document images for published applications using existing viewing tools. As a result, a patent examiner may conveniently compare the foreign application documents to the application under review and assist in the possibility of future sharing of prior searches for applications with common filings among patent offices.

Specific performance results related to the Patent organization goals and measures are as follows:

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

Under the 21st Century Strategic Plan , the Patent organization will improve the quality of our products and services using in-depth reviews of work in progress and enhanced end-process reviews to provide feedback to examiners on areas for improvement, targeted training, and safeguards to ensure competencies. The following performance measures have been established to reflect the USPTO’s success and progress in meeting the Strategic Plan goal.

QUALITY OF PATENTS

MEASURE: Patent Allowance Error Rate

PATENT ALLOWANCE ERROR RATE

Graph summarizing the Patent Allowance Error Rate for the last four fiscal years.

DATA VALIDATION AND VERIFICATION

Data source: Office of Patent Quality Review Report.

Frequency: Daily input, monthly reporting.

Data storage: Automated systems, reports.

Verification: Manual reports and analysis.

Data Limitations: None.

Target and Actual Error Rates for Patents Issued
for the Last 4 Fiscal Years
  FY 2002 FY 2003 FY 2004 FY 2005
Target 5.0% 4.0% 4.0% 4.0%
Actual 4.2% 4.4% 5.3% 4.6% not met

  Discussion: Target not met. We failed to meet this year's target because a further enhanced second pair of eyes review was not instituted until the second half of the fiscal year.

We plan on meeting our goal next year because we have implemented quality initiatives to address the current shortcomings. These initiates are already making an impact; the error rate for the second half of FY 2005 improved significantly. We anticipate further long-term quality improvements in FY 2006.

MEASURE: Patent In-Process Examination Compliance Rate

PATENT IN-PROCESS EXAMINATION COMPLIANCE RATE

Graph summarizing the Patent In-Process Examination Compliance Rate for last 4 fiscal years.

DATA VALIDATION AND VERIFICATION

Data source: Office of Patent Quality Review Report.

Frequency: Daily input, monthly reporting.

Data storage: Automated systems, reports.

Verification: Manual reports and analysis.

Data Limitations: None.

Target and Actual In-Process Examination Compliance Rates
for the last 4 Fiscal Years
  FY 2002 FY 2003 FY 2004 FY 2005
Target - - Baseline 84%
Actual - - 82% 86.2% met

  Discussion: Target met. The improvement in the in-process compliance rate indicates that the quality initiatives previously implemented, such as targeted training, are producing the desired results.

 

In support of the 21st Century Strategic Plan , the USPTO will reduce patent pendency and substantially cut the size of the work backlog. The two primary measures of Patent organization processing time are: (1) average first action pendency, which measures the average time in months from filing until an examiner’s initial determination is made of the patentability of an invention; and (2) average total pendency, which measures the average time in months from filing until the application is issued as a patent or the average application is abandoned by the applicant.

PENDENCY

MEASURE: Patent Average First Action Pendency

PATENT AVERAGE FIRST ACTION PENDENCY

Graph summarizing the average first action pendency for patents issued for the last four fiscal years.

DATA VALIDATION AND VERIFICATION

Data source: PALM system.

Frequency: Daily input, monthly reporting.

Data storage: PALM, automated systems, reports.

Verification: Accuracy of supporting data is controlled through internal program edits in the PALM system. Final test for reasonableness is performed internally by patent examiners, supervisors, and program management analysts.

Data Limitations: None.

Target and Actual Patent Average First Action Pendency
for the Last 4 Fiscal Years
  FY 2002 FY 2003 FY 2004 FY 2005
Target 14.7 18.4 20.2 21.3
Actual 16.7 18.4 20.2 21.1 met

  Discussion: Target met. The initiatives identified in the USPTO 21st Century Strategic Plan and aggressive hiring of highly qualified new examiners, will ultimately reduce pendency, decrease the work backlog, and recover our investments in people, processes, and technology.

 

MEASURE: Patent Average Total Pendency

PATENT AVERAGE TOTAL PENDENCY

Graph summarizing the average total pendency for patents issued for the last four fiscal years.

DATA VALIDATION AND VERIFICATION

Data source: PALM system.

Frequency: Daily input, monthly reporting.

Data storage: PALM, automated systems, reports.

Verification: Accuracy of supporting data is controlled through internal program edits in the PALM system. Final test for reasonableness is performed internally by patent examiners, supervisors, and program management analysts.

Data Limitations: None.

Target and Actual Average Total Patent Pendency
for the Last 4 Fiscal Years
  FY 2002 FY 2003 FY 2004 FY 2005
Target 26.5 27.7 29.8 31.0
Actual 24.0 26.7 27.6 29.1 met

  Discussion: Target met. The initiatives identified in the USPTO 21st Century Strategic Plan will, over several years, reduce total patent pendency.

 

MEASURE: Patent Efficiency

This measure  1 is a relative indicator of the efficiency of the patent process as measured by the total cost of programs that support the examination of patents compared to its core outputs.

PATENT EFFICIENCY

Graph summarizing the efficiency rates for patents issued for the last four fiscal years.

DATA VALIDATION AND VERIFICATION

Data Source: PALM system.

Frequency: Daily input, quarterly reporting.

Data storage: PALM, Data Warehouse, Metify Activity Based Management (ABM).

Verification: Accuracy of supporting data is controlled through internal program edits in PALM, Momentum, Metify ABM. Quality control review of data by Activity Based Cost Accounting (ABC) team and program business teams.

Data Limitations: None.

Target and Actual Efficiency Rates for Patents Issued
for the Last 4 Fiscal Years
  FY 2002 FY 2003 FY 2004 FY 2005
Target - $3,444 $3,502 $4,122
Actual $3,376 $3,329 $3,556 $3,877  1 met

  Discussion: Target met.

 1. This number is preliminary. Data should be finalized by December 2005 and will be reported in the FY 2006 PAR. (back to text)

 


Footnotes:

 1. The USPTO recognizes that there is an inherent difference between the projected obligations in a President’s budget that are used to calculate the efficiency measure target, and the actual expenses that are used to calculate the end of year results. This is primarily a timing problem in that targets are calculated 18 months in advance. The USPTO has formed a group of financial management experts to identify alternatives for a better way of calculating this metric. (back to text)

 

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Last Modified: 11/3/2009 4:43:53 PM