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

Thursday Oct 06, 2011

Quality Continues to Rise

Blog by Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO David Kappos

I thought I would return to the topic of patent quality, a topic that frankly can’t get enough attention. While speed is essential to a well-functioning USPTO, patent quality is the sine qua non of our success, and we are all deeply committed to ensuring patent quality. Since 2006, the USPTO has conducted a semi-annual External Quality Survey administered to practitioners and inventors who have had the most contact with the USPTO through the prior year. By incorporating their comprehensive feedback, we’re able to understand and respond to their concerns, and of course amplify those things we’re doing well.

Interestingly -- and positively -- per the most recent survey results, we are seeing a substantial positive shift in the public’s perception of overall examination quality.

The survey report, which we invite you to view, is based on a statistically-sound, neutral approach that collects a wide range of views on quality. We’re quite pleased to see that stakeholder perceptions of examination quality are the highest since the inception of the survey. The levels also represent significant changes compared to previous years.
 
How does this inform what we do? By incorporating this comprehensive feedback, we’re able to continually improve the quality of our efforts. For those who are satisfied we will do more of what is helping us turn out high quality work product. For those who are unsatisfied we will understand the root causes of their concerns and attempt to address those concerns.
 
As always, your thoughts and comments are welcome, on ways we can further improve quality, or any other topic.

Comments:

I appreciate that procedures are put in place based on some level of logical consideration. But one of them, I propose be changed. Submissions are given a preliminary review prior to being entered. One type of error causes the submission to be not filed, that is, a typographical error of the claim status. A claim might say “previously submitted” when in fact it has been amended and should say “currently amended”. I think this is rather common because we do amendments from the prior version of the claims, and missing the status isn't rare. Refusing entry for that reason is, I suggest a real waste of time and effort. In fact there are many errors that an examiner treats when she responds to a response. This should be in that category. It allows the examiner to consider the response and react to it, including pointing out the apparent error or inconsistency (it could be that amendment was not intended) all in one step. This would move things along more efficiently.

Posted by Lawrence S. Cohen on October 14, 2011 at 06:21 PM EDT #

Inventions can have a multi degree of design concepts, which makes it very difficult on which design concept to file for patent. Without knowing existing patents that R being filed because of the cost burden in patent searches and without knowing if you have done a 2 year 100% complete patent search before you were to file for a patent. Merit patent designs can have amendments, revisions, flaws and could even go through cost burden during a process-of–elimination science to adapt to a variety of methodologies to the point that the patent invention might go through a completely new redesign process. How can a 1 person compete Example; large companies that patent everything whereas cannot patent every design concept? Since 1982 like a grandfather pioneer I have researched a material with a variety of applications which now even have a few spinoff high potential designs whereas intellectual properties have always been compromised with no recovery is not fair

Posted by Irwin Weisel on November 01, 2011 at 07:00 AM EDT #

I don't want to be too fussy, but the terminology used in PAIR could be improved. I suggest it all be reviewed. For example, responses to office actions are entitled "amendment". But not all responses are amendments and even if there are amendments, there are also arguements to traverse rejections. Could we change the reference to "response" instead of "amendment".

Posted by Lawrence S. Cohen on November 03, 2011 at 04:57 PM EDT #

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