USPTO AIA Second Anniversary Public Forum
Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for IP and Deputy USPTO Director Teresa Stanek Rea
September 16, 2013
USPTO AIA Second Anniversary Public Forum
Thank you and good afternoon, everyone! I want to thank you all for taking the time to join us as we mark the two-year anniversary of the America Invents Act, or AIA—the most significant change to the U.S. patent system since 1836.
When President Obama took office, he made overhaul of the patent system one of his top priorities, because he recognized the key role that new innovations and ideas play in creating jobs, stimulating the economy, and ensuring our place as the global leader of innovation. Most recently the administration focused on reforming the patent system by announcing five executive actions and seven proposed legislative recommendations designed to protect innovators from abusive litigation and to ensure the issuance of high quality patents. This announcement was made in conjunction with the June 4 issuance of a paper entitled “Patent Assertion and U.S. Innovation” by the President’s Council of Economic Advisors, the National Economic Council, and the Office of Science and Technology Policy.
The administration has asked the USPTO to implement four of the five executive actions, and we are working hard to put these initiatives into effect as soon as possible. In fact, we are holding a public event on October 17th in Silicon Valley organized by our new Software Partnership, where we will be updating the public on our efforts and seeking further input. We will have another Software Partnership meeting not long after that, right here at our headquarters. But we have not shifted our focus from the administration accomplishment that brings us here today, the AIA.
The AIA has contributed to a more internationally harmonized, more predictable, and more flexible patent system for the United States, and one that is much more responsive to 21st century realities. Perhaps the biggest change to our patent law was the transition from a first-to-invent system to a first-inventor-to-file system, which went into effect on March 16th. This change better aligns U.S. patent law with patent systems throughout the world. The new system simplifies the process of acquiring rights while also supporting innovators large and small as they acquire venture capital, begin manufacturing their innovations, and seek out both domestic and foreign markets.
Later on in the program, we will have a dedicated first-inventor-to-file workshop that will explain these changes in greater detail and showcase how an examiner will apply the new statutory framework to a mock application. The AIA also provided the USPTO with tools to facilitate speedier processing of patent applications, which is critical as we continue the central mission of reducing a backlog that has declined 18 percent since 2009, despite a continuing growth in filings—7 percent this year alone.
Our Track One program helped to decrease application pendency by giving inventors a fast track to a final decision. We are currently averaging a mere six months for the entire process, making Track One an excellent way to secure a patent quickly. This compares to an overall total pendency of 29.5 months for patent applications not filed through the Track One program, though I would note that the overall pendency for regularly filed applications is still down from nearly 36 months just two years ago. Patent quality will also continue to improve with the pre-issuance submission provision in the AIA for third parties to submit prior art. We have received more than 900 submissions since this rule was implemented last September, and our examiners have found them to be useful during examination.
In a few minutes, you will hear more about these provisions as well as Supplemental Examination, Inventor’s Oath or Declaration, and the new micro entity status and micro entity discount. And do not forget our new post-grant administrative review proceedings. Since last September we have received more than 500 submissions for inter partes reviews and covered business method reviews.
Following today’s break, you will get an administrative trials update from our Patent Trial and Appeal Board. The board’s judges are hard at work processing these proceedings to completion in less than a year, far faster than the federal court system. By resolving disputes about patent rights earlier, with greater efficiency and less cost, we add greater certainty to the American patent system.
And of course, thanks to the America Invents Act, we now have satellite offices in Dallas, Denver, Detroit, and Silicon Valley—all of them staffed with board judges who are working to reduce our inventory of appeal cases and AIA trials. The Elijah J. McCoy Satellite Office in Detroit celebrated its one-year anniversary on July 13 of this year. In addition to its judges, the Detroit office has 95 new patent examiners, and during the past year they have issued several thousand first office actions.
So, we have plenty to discuss today, and we have senior leaders here from our patents and board teams. They are the experts. They will walk you through the details, focusing in particular on strengths of the filings made to date as well as things to improve for the future. Our experts likewise will answer any questions you may have. At the end of the day, partnerships, quality service, and frequent stakeholder engagement and input are what make the USPTO a successful agency. We plan to build on that success in the months and years ahead to ensure that we are doing everything humanly possible to help our nation’s inventors, innovators, and entrepreneurs thrive and prosper in the 21st century global economy.
Thank you again for choosing to spend the afternoon with us. Now let me hand it back to our talented moderator, Janet Gongola.
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