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January 12, 2011

CONTACT: Peter Pappas or Jennifer Rankin Byrne
(571) 272-8400 or
peter.pappas@uspto.gov;
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Press Release, 11-03

USPTO Introduces Online Tools to Solicit Public Feedback on Patent and Trademark Examining Procedures

Public Input will help improve examination resources and process

Washington – The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) today introduced two online discussion tools designed to solicit input from the intellectual property (IP) community on how the USPTO can update and improve the Manual of Patent Examining Procedure (MPEP) and Trademark Manual of Examining Procedure (TMEP).

“The objective is to ensure that the MPEP and TMEP are as accurate, complete and current as possible and enable practitioners and examiners to find information easily and, get accurate and complete guidance,” said Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO David Kappos. “This input from users will assist us to further improve these resources as well as our examining processes.” 

The new tools facilitate discussion and feedback on the MPEP and TMEP by: 

•     Encouraging readers to post comments about the current text, on a section-by-section basis, to point out errors, suggest clarifications, and suggest examples of
       interpretations.

•     In some circumstances, posting preliminary content and encouraging the community to comment on the preliminary content before it becomes official.  

•     Periodically summarizing and following up on the comments on each section to ensure that meritorious suggestions are acted upon while streamlining the comment process.

•     Providing a forum for the community to discuss and debate topics such as how to interpret recent court decisions.

The USPTO has posted a few selected chapters from each of the MPEP and TMEP that were selected to draw commentary from a wide spectrum of users. The USPTO plans to post additional chapters in the coming months. Feedback will be used to consider potential modifications to the tools or the conditions for their use in order to increase meaningful participation. Current MPEP chapters open for discussion include: Chapter 500 - Receipt and Handling of Mail and Papers and Chapter 600 - Parts, Form, and Content of Application. TMEP Section 904.03 - Material Appropriate as Specimens for Trademarks and Chapter 1200 - Substantive Examination of Applications are available for discussion. Those interested in contributing comments can access the tools on the following websites http://uspto-mpep.ideascale.com/ and http://uspto-tmep.ideascale.com/.

The Manual of Patent Examining Procedure (MPEP) is published to provide USPTO patent examiners, applicants, attorneys, agents and representatives of applicants with a reference work on the practices and procedures relative to the prosecution of patent applications before the USPTO. The MPEP contains instructions to patent examiners, as well as other material in the nature of information and interpretation, and outlines the current procedures which the patent examiners are required or authorized to follow in appropriate cases in the examination of a patent application.

The Trademark Manual of Examining Procedure (TMEP) is published to provide trademark examining attorneys in the USPTO, trademark applicants, and attorneys and representatives for trademark applicants with a reference work on the practices and procedures relative to prosecution of applications to register marks in the USPTO.  The Manual contains guidelines and materials in the nature of information and interpretation, and outlines the procedures which Examining Attorneys are required or authorized to follow in the examination of trademark applications. 

This project is one of several open government initiatives the USPTO is undertaking to collaborate with the public and increase agency transparency.  In June 2010, the USPTO announced a partnership with Google to make bulk patent and trademark data available online to the public for free (www.uspto.gov/news/pr/2010/10_22.jsp).  In September 2010, the USPTO launched a Data Visualization Center (www.uspto.gov/dashboards) on its website that shares key patent metrics which are updated monthly, with additional agency metrics to be added in the near future.  The USPTO also partners with New York Law School in the Peer to Patent program, which opens the patent examination process to public participation (www.peertopatent.org). USPTO Director David Kappos has also hosted a public blog for more than a year at www.uspto.gov/blog.

Stay current with the USPTO by subscribing to our regular e-mail updates. Visit our Subscription Center at www.uspto.gov/subscribe.

For non-press inquiries, contact Robert Clarke at robert.clarke@uspto.gov

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Last Modified: 12/6/2012 3:04:42 PM