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March 24, 2014

CONTACT: (Media Only) Patrick Ross
or Paul Fucito
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Press Release, 14-05

USPTO to Host Roundtable on Crowdsourcing Access to Prior Art

Part of recently announced Executive Actions designed to strengthen the quality and accessibility of the patent system

Washington– The U.S. Department of Commerce’s United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will host a roundtable to solicit public opinion on boosting crowdsourcing and third-party preissuance submissions identifying relevant prior art. The goal of this outreach is to enhance the quality of examination, as well as the quality of issued patents. The roundtable, which will be held on April 10, 2014, at the USPTO headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia, is part of efforts to expand ways for the public to help patent examiners find relevant prior art, as called for in the recently announced USPTO-led Executive Actions to strengthen the U.S. patent system. 

“The USPTO is committed to refining the current third party submission process and exploring other ways that the public can better provide potential prior art to the agency,” said Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director of the USPTO Michelle Lee. “By soliciting feedback about innovative ways to leverage crowdsourcing techniques, we can help build a better patent system together.”

On February 20, 2014, the Administration announced three new initiatives aimed at encouraging innovation and strengthening the “quality and accessibility of the patent system.” Crowdsourcing access to prior art will strengthen patent quality by harnessing the tremendous potential of private sector subject matter expertise, making it easier for the public to provide relevant prior art for consideration in patent applications. It will also help the USPTO update its guidance and training for patent examiners to help them more effectively use crowd-sourced prior art.

The White House and the General Services Administration also recently announced the next round of the Presidential Innovation Fellows (PIF) program. As part of this effort, USPTO is seeking a fellow to help in carrying out the agency’s goal of “Using the Crowd to Improve Patent Quality,” specifically by ensuring that patent examiners have the best prior art available during examinations. The PIF program will pair top innovators from the public sector with top innovators in the government to collaborate on finding, among a variety of resources from across the public and private sector, the most relevant prior art, especially in areas where terms are non-standardized, can be difficult. This effort will focus on driving valuable contributions to the patent process and enhancing patent quality. Applications for the PIF program will be accepted through April 7, 2014.

The roundtable will explore the range of existing crowdsourcing resources. USPTO speakers will discuss the legal requirements for third-party preissuance submissions and report on data that has been collected from third-party preissuance submissions as well as from examiner surveys. Additionally, guest speakers from various organizations and companies focused on crowdsourcing will outline topics relevant to the use of crowdsourcing and third-party submissions to identify relevant prior art. The presenters will also participate in an open discussion with the public.

The USPTO is also requesting written feedback in response to any of the topics identified in the roundtable notice as well as those to be discussed during the event. Written comments must be received on or before April 25, 2014 to ensure consideration. Details on the USPTO’s request for comments, including how to submit comments, can be found in the Federal Register Notice: www.federalregister.gov/articles/2014/03/19/2014-05996/use-of-crowdsourcing-and-third-party-preissuance-submissions-to-identify-relevant-prior-art. Additional information, including directions, meeting agenda and RSVP details, can be found on the Crowdsourcing Roundtable page on the USPTO website.

For further information, please contact Jack Harvey, Director, Technology Center 2800 Jack.Harvey@uspto.gov, or by telephone at 571-272-8004.

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Last Modified: 3/25/2014 10:18:10 AM