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

Wednesday Mar 20, 2013

Examiner Training Continues on First Inventor to File

Blog by Acting Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Acting Director of the USPTO Teresa Stanek Rea

The much anticipated First-Inventor-to-File (FITF) provision of the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (AIA) became effective March 16, 2013. The new system improves the transparency and fairness of our patent system. By harmonizing our filing system with the rest of the world’s industrial leaders, innovators competing in the global economy can more easily acquire venture capital, begin constructing their inventions, and seek out new markets at home and abroad.

The USPTO has already begun conducting examiner training on the FITF provision for our examining corps of more than 8,500 employees. The FITF training addresses critical changes to 35 U.S.C. §102 that redefine both prior art and the effective filing date afforded applications. 

The training entails a three-part approach, recognizing applications to be examined under the AIA FITF law will gradually rise to the top of their dockets. For most examiners, this will not occur until this summer.

The first phase runs through April 4, 2013, and offers a three-part overview: 

  1. An introductory video that familiarizes the examiners with the AIA FITF statute and highlights some of the major changes;
  2. A live, lecture-style training session that delves deeper into rejections under 35 USC §§102 (a) (1) and (a)(2) and the exceptions to these rejections under 35 USC §§102(b)(1)(A-B) and (b)(2)(A-C), showcasing practical examples of each; and
  3. A follow-up video that re-emphasizes the statutory framework and provides additional practical examples of the provisions discussed in the live training.

A computer-based version of the live training is also being prepared as an online reference for examiners.

The second training phase consists of “just in time” or one-on-one training with an AIA FITF subject matter expert. It is intended to assist examiners in applying the provisions to particular applications in need of immediate examination, such as prioritized applications. This phase will run prior to the commencement of the third phase of training, a comprehensive course in July.  Because applications filed on or after March 16, 2013, will take some time before being ready for examination, it is not expected that many employees will require this intermediate training.

The third and final phase in July 2013 will provide all examiners with an in-depth understanding of the FITF provisions, including how they impact prosecution. It will consist of small workshops geared toward greater interaction between examiners and FITF subject matter experts, providing examiners the opportunity to have specific questions answered.

All of the examiner training material on the FITF provisions of the AIA will be made available to the public on our AIA microsite.

Comments:

Will PTO offer training to non-agency employees who are interested in learning more about this new patent law?

Posted by Carla on March 20, 2013 at 11:10 AM EDT #

I am pleased to read that the PTO is doing a good job of training examiners, writing new rules and giving briefings in person and on line. Good job. But it still annoys me to read the virtually unacceptable propaganda about how good FITF is and how "harmonization" is a good idea. I know the debate is over, but it is still widely held that there never was a need for this harmonization, it was a surrender of our principle that the act of invention should be the controlling event, not the commencement of a bureaucratic procedure. Yesterday I turned away my first inquiry for a patent because the inventor had been selling it for a few months. Needless to say, the “big guys” who can plan patent programs around their business get to be OK, but individuals don’t have the leeway nor are they informed about the destruction of their right to patents by activities that used to be graced.

Posted by Lawrence S. Cohen on March 21, 2013 at 04:12 PM EDT #

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