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Friday Mar 11, 2011

New Quality Measure Added to February Dashboard

Special Guest Blog by USPTO Commissioner for Patents Bob Stoll

The dashboard for the month of February has been released and is on our website. We have added a new quality measure, “Quality Index Report (QIR).”  QIR, one of the factors making up the new composite quality metric that was recently announced, tracks the actions taken by examiners during prosecution of patent applications.  The QIR is a statistical analysis of quality-related events in the prosecution, such as the reopening of final rejections and second non-final actions.  Identifying quality issues prior to final action allows for corrective actions to be taken via coaching/mentoring and training. 


The new quality composite greatly expands the previous procedures for measurement of examination quality.  The effort is the result of collaboration between the USPTO, the Patent Public Advisory Committee (PPAC) Quality Task Force and the patent community.  The dashboard continues to show the two historical quality measures of Final Disposition Compliance Rate and the In-Process Compliance Rate; these continue to be on target.


Traditional first action pendency increased only slightly to an average of 24.5 months for February up from 24.2 months in January, while traditional total pendency decreased from 34.5 months in January to 34.0 months in February.  The USPTO continues to focus on reducing the backlog and first action pendency in order to achieve overall pendency and backlog goals.  


Our Clearing Oldest Patent Applications (COPA) initiative continues to see great progress as the number of First Actions on cases older than 16 months chips away at the “tail.”   This month there were 233,780 cases remaining in the tail.  The preliminary UPR filing data through February shows that 202,456 applications have been received by the office to date this fiscal year, versus 186,065 over the same time last year.  The backlog of applications awaiting first office action by examiners decreased this month to 715,461. 


We think these metrics show some great progress.  And, on a related note, I want to personally thank everyone worked so hard to ensure the passage of S. 23, the America Invents Act of 2011.  The bill will provide the USPTO the needed resources to improve patent quality and reduce pendency, which will help innovators bring their products to market, build businesses and create much-needed new jobs.  Our hope is that the House will quickly act on patent reform as well.


Thanks for your ongoing support and I look forward to your feedback.



The Director's enthusiasm for a return to a first-to-file system created by senate bill S.23 is misguided. Even if adopted into law, it is unlikely that the first-to-file system will survive the courts. In a nutshell, there is no way around the fact that rights must be protected on a first-to-conceive basis. For example, Inventor "A" files parent application A1 in 2012, followed in 2016 by continuation-in-part application A2 based on new matter conceived in 2015. Since A2 (filed in 2016) claims the priority of A1 (filed in 2012), under the first-to-file system it would beat out an application by Inventor "B" filed in 2014 based on matter conceived in 2013. Thus, since inventor "A" has a foot-in-the-door with application A1, the first-to-file system unfairly blocks out future competitors on an ongoing basis. On the other hand, if we impose the first-to-conceive rule on the new matter, we are back to the first-to-conceive system! Thus, S.23 reduces to an absurdity.

Posted by Eurica Califorrniaa on March 12, 2011 at 10:40 AM EST #

In response to Eurica, that is actually incorrect. The subject matter of Application A2 that was conceived of in 2015 would only be accorded a filing date of 2016 (when A2 is filed, not A1), so any inventor who files an application prior to 2016 claiming subject matter disclosed in A2 would in fact have priority over A2. Applications, even continuation in parts, do not get priority to subject matter not disclosed in the parent.

Posted by Cathy on March 16, 2011 at 12:18 PM EDT #

The above Comment about CIP applications is an excelllent example of how much of the debate over FTF versut FTI is fueled by confusion as to what the present law and practice really is. No claim in a CIP that is not fully 112 supported by its parent application specification gets any priority filing date benefit from its parent application. Nor is a "first to conceive" alone a completed prior invention. See 35 USC 102(g).

Posted by on March 17, 2011 at 12:27 PM EDT #

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