April 25, 2006
Press Release, 06-26
Alexandria Town Hall Meeting Focuses on Improvements to Patent Review Process
Washington, D.C. — The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) today held a town hall meeting to engage the public and learn their views on USPTO's proposals intended to streamline the application review process. A four-person panel representing a spectrum of organizations with interests in the patent system offered their views on the proposals which are designed to ensure high quality patent examination and work toward decreasing the backlog of pending applications.
Suzanne Michel, Federal Trade Commission; Jay Thomas, Georgetown Law School; Charles Van Horn, American Intellectual Property Law Association; and Herbert C. Wamsley, Intellectual Property Owners Association shared their views on the proposals with a group of over 100 patent attorneys, patent agents, independent inventors and members of the small business community.
"The USPTO clearly has a responsibility to do everything it can to improve America's patent system. That is why we are undertaking this collaborative approach—putting forth quality and efficiency proposals for the patent community to give us feedback," said Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property Jon Dudas. "Applicants and the public deserve certainty. This focus on quality of applications and closure of the examination process will provide more certainty. Everyone agrees that better quality input will result in a better quality end product."
In FY 2004, nearly one-third of the 355,000 new patent applications were resubmitted by applicants hoping to change the agency's decision. Also, over 40 percent of new applications in FY 2004 had more than 20 claims. Thus, the USPTO has published for comment proposed initiatives to restrict rework on old applications and limit the number of claims the USPTO will initially examine for each invention.
The proposed rules can be found at http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/com/sol/notices/71fr48.pdf and http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/com/sol/notices/71fr61.pdf.