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Director's Forum: A Blog from USPTO's Leadership

Friday Sep 23, 2011

August Patents Dashboard Overview

Guest blog by USPTO Commissioner for Patents Bob Stoll

The Patent Dashboard showing our performance for the month of August has been released and is on our website. We have added several new quality measures.  As you may recall, the USPTO adopted and implemented a new set of patent quality measurement procedures for fiscal year 2011. The dashboard now shows the overall “Quality Composite Metric” as well as the seven individual factors that make up the composite.

Achieving high-quality examination is always our top priority. Previously, the USPTO measured quality through two measurements, the final rejection and allowance compliance rate and the in-process compliance rate. These measures had long been considered by the USPTO and the intellectual property community as useful—albeit insufficient—measures of quality. The Quality Composite Score, which uses these two historic metrics and five new metrics, was crafted by a joint USPTO-Patent Public Advisory Committee (PPAC) Task Force with extensive input from the intellectual property community and the public. The purpose of the new composite is to provide a more comprehensive view of quality in order to help us both address quality issues and identify and encourage best practices.

The new procedures measure seven diverse aspects of the examination process to form a balanced and comprehensive quality metric. These seven aspects include:

  1. Quality of the action setting forth allowance or final rejection of the application (Final Disposition Compliance Rate- 20 percent of composite weight)
  2. Quality of the actions taken during the course of examination (In-Process Compliance Rate- 15 percent)
  3. Use of best search practices in the examiner's initial search for prior art (Pre-FAOM Search Review- 10 percent)
  4. Use of best examination practices in the first action on the merits, (Complete FAOM Review- 10 percent)
  5. Trends in compact and efficient examination as reflected in aggregate USPTO data, (Quality Index Report (QIR)- 20 percent)
  6. Perceptions of applicants and practitioners as measured by surveys (External Quality Survey- 15 percent)
  7. Perceptions of examiners as measured by surveys (Internal Quality Survey-10 percent)

The results of each metric are weighted and combined to determine the Quality Composite metric. The Quality Composite compares current performance against historical achievement and charts our progression towards desired levels of performance. Tracking individual components within the Composite allows us to reconcile any disjoints between outputs and desired outcomes, validate the desired correlations of metrics, and ensure quality initiatives address disparate views of examination quality. Since the beginning of FY10, the USPTO has progressed in each of the quality-related metrics for which historical data are available and we continue to be on target to meet our goals for FY 11.

The backlog of patent applications awaiting first office action by examiners dropped to 683,991 with 67,824 applications awaiting initial action following a request for continued examination (RCE) at the end of August.

Traditional First Action Pendency increased to an average of 28.2 months in August.  This increase from 27.8 last month was expected as we continue to clear up the oldest applications from the backlog through the Clearing the Oldest Patent Applications (COPA) initiative. At the end of August, there were 83,845 cases older than 16 months remaining. Meanwhile, Traditional Total Pendency increased from 33.5 months in July to 33.7 months in August.

The Preliminary UPR filing data through August shows that 455,930 applications have been received this fiscal year. Last year at this time, 437,530 applications had been received. The Office anticipates a 4.1 percent increase in filings this fiscal year over FY 2010. The allowance rate was 47.1 percent in August, which is 2.1 percent higher than this time last year. This increase is appropriate considering efforts taken to encourage examiner collaboration with applicants to practice compact prosecution.

As always, we welcome your thoughts and comments.

Comments:

Two suggestions for the patent dashboard: 1. a prior month needle (e.g. a yellow set point needle) on the speedometers as a baseline to instantly show whether speed is up or down, and 2. reverse the numbers on those speedometers that currently indicate slowness (e.g. pendency, backlog & actions per disposal) so that movement to the right (clockwise) indicates faster/better as on a real dashboard rather than slower/poorer as they do now.

Posted by Bruce Burdick on September 28, 2011 at 02:23 PM EDT #

Kudos to the USPTO for providing this tremendous amount of information to the public -- and without FOIA requests! Your efforts at government transparency deserve much applause and support. As for visualizing the data, here are my requests / suggestions: 1. Please have the vertical scales of all the graphs start at the origin (when you abbreviate the scales, it exaggerates the actual trends) and 2. for all the graphs including the pop-ups, I suggest you put the months of the year along the X-axis, even if it makes for a window that has to be scrolled horizontally. Keep up the good work, especially as demonstrated by what you have achieved with the Clearing the Oldest Patent Applications effort. Better keep hiring more examiners!

Posted by James Cochran on October 21, 2011 at 06:35 AM EDT #

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