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U. S. Patent and Trademark Office

High Impact Agency Commitments

Status Report as of August 2000

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The Patent and Trademark Office's vision  for the 21st  Century is to lead the world in providing customer-valued intellectual property rights that spark innovation, create consumer confidence and promote creativity.

 

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The U. S. Patent and Trademark Office has made significant progress toward accomplishing its commitments as a High Impact Agency.

  • We have initiated electronic filing of trademarks, having received almost 40,000 applications via the Internet this year.
  • In Patents, our Electronic Filing System (EFS) will be available to all customers in October 2000. We have been conducting a pilot since December 1999 and over 110 applications have been filed via the Internet.
  • We have provided Internet access to major databases: Over 2.7 million pending, registered, abandoned, expired, and cancelled trademarks dating back to 1870, and the full text and image of 2.7 million patents dating back to 1976.
  • We are pursuing E-government in a number of ways, such as accepting fee payments, providing patent and trademark application status information, receiving employment applications, and receiving and delivering orders for products and services via the Internet.
  • At the same time, some of the commitments made in 1997 have been overtaken by events.
  • In Patents, the enactment of the American Inventors Protection Act of 1999 has caused us to change the way we monitor timeliness because the legislation provides a guarantee that would ensure that diligent applicants maximize their patents’ term.
  • In Trademarks, applications are projected to be about 36 percent over the number received in 1999 and 42 percent over the projected receipts in the 2000 President’s budget. This rate of growth has put a strain on the organization in terms of meeting its commitments. However, pendency time to first action continues to be well below the end of 1998 level.

More detailed information on each of these accomplishments follows.


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Process all inventions in 12 months (to be achieved in 2003).

Actions

Results as of August 2000

  • The Patent goal to process all inventions in 12 months has been superseded by the American Inventors Protection Act of 1999, which was enacted into law in November 1999. The AIPA legislation provides a guarantee that would ensure that diligent applicants maximize their patents’ term. Failure of the Patent Business to: (a) issue a first Office action within 14 months filing, (b) respond to an applicant’s reply to a rejection or to an appeal brief within 4 months, (c) act on an application within 4 months of a decision of the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences or a decision of the Federal courts, (d) issue a patent within 4 months of payment of issue fee, or (e) issue a patent within 36 months of filing, will result in the patent term being extended a day of each day of delay.
  • At the end of fiscal year 1999, our cycle time averaged 12.9 months, with 62 percent of inventions processed within 12 months or less.
  • Preliminary measurements indicate that at the end of fiscal year 1999, 83 percent of applications received a first Office action within 14 months of the filing date, and 89 percent of patents were granted within 36 months. These are projected to be 75 percent and 90 percent, respectively, by the end of fiscal year 2000. The decline in the percentage of applications receiving a first Office action within 14 months of filing reflects a much stronger patent application filing growth rate than originally planned (12 percent vs. 7 percent), as well as reduced examiner hiring due to funding restrictions.

  • By the end of fiscal year 2000, we project that:
    • 99 percent of applications will receive actions within 4 months of an applicant’s amendment,
    • 90 percent of applications will receive actions within 4 months of a Board decision, and
    • 85 percent of applications will be granted within 4 months of issue fee payment.

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Render a trademark first action in three months (to be achieved in 2000).

Actions

Results as of August 2000

  • The Commissioner for Trademarks is reporting that applications are projected to be about 36 percent over the number received in 1999 and 42 percent over the projected receipts in the 2000 President’s budget. Because of this dramatic increase in the number of trademark application filings and funding limitations in fiscal year 2000, pendency to first action will be higher than the target of 3.0 months.
  • Actions taken to address the dramatic increase in application filings include hiring additional trademark examining attorneys, and creating measures to focus on examination and processing time in light of unprecedented growth, and hiring contract staff to process the backlog of new applications to reduce the time to mail a filing receipt for paper filed applications.
  • Hired 45 examining attorneys through the end of July. Fifty-five examiners have left for other positions, a net loss of 10 for the year. A total of 357 examiners are on board as of August 1, 2000.
  • Trademark pendency to first action is at 5.6 months as of July 2000.
  • Pendency to registration/ abandonment is at 17.1 months as of July 2000

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Offer electronic filing to our customers (Trademarks in 1999 and Patents in 2002).

Actions

Results as of August 2000

  • Trademarks achieved its goal to offer electronic filing to customers (TEAS) on October 1, 1998.
  • TEAS was upgraded in April 1999 to permit automated processing of credit card payments and transfer of application data.
  • In April 2000, seven new forms were added to the e-TEAS site, permitting customers to file all intent-to-use and post registration forms electronically. Applications are received directly in the areas that process the applications, reducing processing tasks and delivery time.
  • Created the first e-commerce Law Office to receive and process all electronically filed applications.
  • Through August 20, 2000, our customers had filed more than 38,200 applications for registration electronically this fiscal year, more than the total number received last year.
  • To date, 13.5 percent of our filings have been submitted electronically through e-TEAS, averaging 116 a day, 7 days a week, compared to an average of 747 paper filed applications.
  • From April 28 to August 20, 2000 our customers had filed nearly 1,900 intent-to-use applications and 270 post registration applications.
  • With the implementation of the e-commerce Law Office, filing receipts for electronically filed applications are sent by e-mail on date of receipt.
  • Patents has initiated a patent application filing pilot via the Internet.
  • Work with vendors of commercial intellectual property portfolio management software packages to incorporate electronic filing capabilities into their products.
  • Since December 1999, the USPTO has been conducting a pilot program for the electronic filing of patent applications with customers all across the country. As of August 15, 2000 over 110 patent applications have been filed in the pilot program.
  • The Electronic Filing System (EFS) will be available from the USPTO web site to all customers who want to use it in late October 2000.The USPTO also plans to mail CD-ROMs containing the electronic filing software to registered patent attorneys and agents in November 2000.
  • The technical requirements for electronic filing for patents, trademarks, and assignments are being made available to commercial vendors through a Request for Agreement. In this way, commercial software vendors can incorporate intellectual property authoring software that is compatible with the USPTO technical environment.

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Electronically process patent applications (in 2003) and trademark applications.

Actions

Results as of August 2000

Patents

  • Scan patent applications and use optical character recognition to capture data from applications.
  • Continue development on the Tools for Electronic Application Management (TEAM) system.
  • In October 2003, we will deploy electronic patent application processing in a Technology Center.
  • Full deployment of application processing to all Technology Centers is scheduled for October 2004.
  • Incoming patent applications are scanned, converted to electronic images, and stored for access by examiners and technical support staff in pre-examination, certification, licensing and review, and the Patent Cooperation Treaty Receiving Office in the Patent Application Capture and Review (PACR) system. PACR also uses optical character recognition technology to capture bibliographic data from the scanned image of the applications that are submitted in a standard format. Customers receive an "electronic post card" acknowledging receipt of the application via the Internet. The bibliographic data is automatically entered into the USPTO workflow tracking system.
  • Most work on TEAM has been deferred because of higher priority work to implement the American Inventors Protection Act and budget reductions. Automated claim tree diagramming and analysis, a TEAM module, is scheduled for initial rollout in spring 2001.

 

Trademarks

  • Replace initial trademark application data entry system.
  • Replace the Trademark Reporting and Monitoring (TRAM) system, the principal electronic repository of trademark data and status.
  • Scan paper filed trademark applications and use optical character recognition to capture the data through the Trademark Image Capture and Retrieval System (TICRS).
  • Deploy Trademark Image Capture and Retrieval System (TICRS) to provide the capabilities necessary to manage paper filed documents in electronic form by capturing and retrieving both incoming and outgoing correspondence.

 

  • All trademark data entry throughout the examination process is done through TRADEUPS.
  • The TRAM replacement system - TRAM++ - has been delayed to incorporate provisions of the Trademark Law Treaty and to support the "electronic Law Office" concept. Current plans call for an early summer 2001 deployment.
  • The Trademark Image Capture and Retrieval System (TICRS) has been deployed for processing newly filed applications for registration. Application text is captured through optical character recognition technology and automatically loaded into TRADEUPS, minimizing key data entry for those cases.
  • TICRS is available on the desktop to view electronic images of applications, and is used to generate copies of the application drawing page for filing in the Trademark Search Library.

 

 

 

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Partner with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) to achieve electronic filing of Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) applications and to electronically receive and process PCT applications at the USPTO (in 2000).

Actions

Results as of August 2000

  • Process PCT applications electronically at the USPTO.
  • Develop PCT Operations Workflow and Electronic Review (POWER) system which, when complete, will utilize PCT applications filed electronically or converted from paper applications in the Receiving Office in order to complete an automated formalities review and electronic processing of the applications.
  • The Patent Cooperation Treaty Operations and Workflow and Electronic Review (POWER) system was deployed in March 2000. The first phase of POWER supports PCT Receiving Office functions for international applications.

  • Phase II of POWER, planned for deployment in March 2001, will automate PCT national stage processing.
  • Electronic filing of PCT applications available in fiscal year 2002. Electronic filing of PCT applications is dependent upon approval of PCT Administrative Instructions that will provide the legal basis for electronic filing.

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Enable customers to use the Internet to conduct business electronically (ongoing).

Actions

Results as of August 2000

  • Provide patent and trademark application information through the Internet.
  • Enable customers to order and receive patent and trademark information products over the Internet.
  • In fiscal year 2001, expand the offering of patent information on the Web site to include patents dating back to 1790.
  • PTO provided the capability to order information products over the Internet in June 1999.
  • Provided Internet access to significant databases:
    • Over 2.7 million pending, registered, abandoned, expired, and cancelled trademarks dating back to 1870 – 450,000 searches were conducted by the public in June 2000;

    • Full text and image of 2.7 million patents dating back to 1976.
  • The Patent Application Information Retrieval (PAIR) system (which makes patent application information available through the Internet) had received, as of the third quarter 2000, an average of 140,000 queries per month for patent application status.
  • Patents on the web retrieved over 12.6 million image pages in June 2000.
  • As of July 2000, we are delivering and average of 1,949 documents per month via the Internet.
  • As of the third quarter, we are receiving an average of over 600,000 queries per month for trademark application and registration status information via the Internet.

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Continually assess the USPTO fee structure to ensure it encourages participation in the patent and trademark systems and reflects costs.

Actions

Results as of August 2000

  • Assess customer needs with regard to a fee structure.
  • Prepare a report in response to the mandate in the American Inventors Protection Act of 1999 to study alternative patent fee structures to determine how best to encourage maximum participation of the U.S. inventor community in the patent system.
  • Conducted customer input sessions in 1997 – summaries included on the USPTO Web site.
  • Continually reviewing and refining the fee structure: reduction to major patent fee amounts on November 10, 1998 by approximately six percent; adjustment of patent and trademark fee schedule in fiscal year 2000 to better reflect costs.
  • Currently in the planning and analysis stage to respond to the AIPA mandate regarding alternative patent fee structures.

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Offer USPTO employees innovative training programs and work-at-home opportunities.

Actions

Results as of August 2000

  • Prepare USPTO employees to operate in a new work environment that is knowledge-based and fully automated.
  • Provide USPTO employees with a flexible work environment, such as working at home and flexible work schedules.
  • Currently five employees are seeking degrees in Computer Science, Engineering, Life Sciences, and Physical Sciences which could qualify them for professional positions within the USPTO. Two participants are expected to complete their degree programs in December 2000 and be ready to take Patent Examiner Initial Training (PEIT) in January 2001.
  • Twenty-one employees completed the re-training in mid-March 2000 and are serving as paralegals.
  • A Trademark Work At Home pilot involving 18 trademark-examining attorneys was completed. Currently 34 employees are working at home and this number could be expanded to 60 by the end of the fiscal year.
  • USPTO currently is exploring the feasibility of patent examiners working at home.

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For further information about PTO's High Impact Agency goals contact Frances Michalkewicz, Acting Comptroller and Deputy Chief Financial Officer (frances.michalkewicz@uspto.gov) or Dan Haigler (dan.haigler@uspto.gov).

09/06/00

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