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Collage showing images with one-word descriptors from the U S P T O Fiscal Year 2007 Performance and Accountability Report cover that reinforces the report's tagline of Transforming for the Future Today.
Performance and Accountability Report Fiscal Year 2007
Management's Discussion and Analysis

Table of Contents | Management | Financial | Auditor | IG | Other

Strategic Goal 2: Optimize Trademark Quality and Timeliness

The Trademark organization continues to demonstrate excellence and the qualities that allow the USPTO to make progress toward its vision to “lead the world in IP protection and policy.” For the second year in a row, the Trademark organization has met and exceeded all of its agency performance targets, advancing all of the objectives outlined in the USPTO’s 2007-2012 Strategic Plan. FY 2007 accomplishments and future priorities are:

Improving Efficiency

First action pendency — the length of time between receipt of a trademark application and when the USPTO makes a preliminary decision — was reduced to the lowest level in six years, ending the year at 2.9 months, demonstrating results a year ahead of schedule. Average total pendency also showed significant improvement with registration occurring within 15.1 months from filing.

Pendency has improved as production has increased and become more consistent on a monthly basis, due to changes in performance plans and incentive awards. Increased use of electronic forms, particularly Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS) Plus filings, which represent about 30 percent of new application filings, have improved the efficiency of examination as well as contributing to an increase in applications approved for publication.

The Trademark organization has made process changes to streamline the post examination process, and reduce costs and disposal pendency. Specifically, the Trademark organization has decreased the time between approval for publication by the examining attorney, publication in the Official Gazette, and registration (by eliminating the second level of proofing and improving the post-publication amendment process). This process change has had a direct and positive impact on reducing disposal pendency to the lowest level in 14 years.

Photo of Sun Microsystems Trademarks Director Tiki Dare moderating the 6th Annual International Trademark Association (INTA) Industry Group Training Seminar for USPTO trademark attorneys. The seminar is jointly sponsored by INTA and the USPTO to bring trademark attorneys firsthand updates from various industries.

Learning from Industry — Sun Microsystems Trademarks Director Tiki Dare moderates the 6th Annual International Trademark Association (INTA) Industry Group Training Seminar for USPTO trademark attorneys. The seminar is jointly sponsored by INTA and the USPTO to bring trademark attorneys firsthand updates from various industries.

Trademark Pendency Performance — The two primary measures of Trademark organization processing are average first action pendency (the time from filing to first action) and total average pendency (the time from filing until disposal).

Graph summarizing the average first action pendency for trademarks issued for the last four fiscal years.D

Graph summarizing the average total pendency for trademarks issued for the last four fiscal years.D

Improving Quality


Searching and examination quality continued to show improvement. Nearly 96 percent of first actions and more than 97 percent of final actions meet statutory and compliance rates for quality of decision making and writing, the highest levels ever achieved. Advances have also been made to enable more complete and accurate filings. Specifically, the Trademark organization has greater use of online tools and has improved the workflow process to better manage and track performance, improve training, and increase the use of electronic filing, which contribute to better quality of application data and consistency in processing All newly hired examiners now complete a seven-week training course on substantive and procedural examination, with an emphasis on the Trademark organization’s examination curriculum. The Trademark organization's quality results are a reflection of the cumulative effects of five years of emphasis on the same criteria for assessing examination quality.

The Trademark telework program, already recognized as a leader in the Federal Government, received the 2007 Work-Life Innovative Excellence Award given by the Alliance for Work-Life Progress. The award showcases forward thinking programs and policies that look beyond their own cultural, demographic, and organizational boundaries to demonstrate excellence in enhancing and promoting work-life effectiveness, while achieving organizational goals.

On June 4, 2007, the USPTO celebrated the 10-year anniversary of its trademark Work-at-Home program, which started out in 1997 as a small pilot with just 18 examining attorneys. The Trademark organization has realized numerous benefits from saving space, to employee retention, to improved work life balance for employees.

Photo of Under Secretary Jon Dudas; Deputy Commissioner for Trademark Operations Debbie Cohn; and Commissioner for Trademarks Lynne Beresford celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Trademark Work-at-Home program.

Celebrating Success — Under Secretary Jon Dudas; Deputy Commissioner for Trademark Operations Debbie Cohn; and Commissioner for Trademarks Lynne Beresford celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Trademark Work-at-Home program. Ms. Cohn was surprised to receive inscribed statements from Congressmen Tom Davis, Jim Moran, and Frank Wolf, praising her work and the success of the telework program in the Congressional Record.

Trademark Quality Performance — The Trademark organization continues to improve the quality of its products and services using in-depth reviews of work in progress and enhanced end-process reviews.

Graph summarizing the trademark first action compliance rate for the last four fiscal years.D

Graph summarizing the trademark final action compliance rate for the last four fiscal years.D

The Trademark organization continues to improve on its successful telework program through the continued expansion of telework opportunities and by exploring the use of remote access and collaboration tools. Eighty-five percent of eligible examining attorneys now work from home nearly full time, with 85 percent of all eligible Trademark employees working from home at least one day per week. Forty-nine percent of all Trademark employees telework.

Providing E-Management and E-Tools

The Trademark organization is in the final stages of implementing a long term project to replace manual, paper-based processes with a fully electronic operation. In the past year, Trademarks implemented an electronic docketing system known as the First Action System for Trademarks (FAST) for the law office technical support staff. This was the first implementation to extend electronic workload management tools, which include the routing and assignment of new work, and monitoring of cases in process beyond the examining corps. This system significantly improves the processing and management of applications as well as providing access to online production reports to monitor the status of individual performance.

To ensure that the transition results in more productive, efficient, and cost-effective business processes and practices, the organization has also undertaken an assessment of its trademark process and the effect of incremental changes on its work force. The assessment process includes documenting or mapping the entire workflow to identify opportunities for further improvement, examining how best to organize and use staff, and developing more appropriate performance standards.

As part of this assessment process, the Trademark organization implemented several changes including realigning the law office support staff in order to create a greater focus on managing workload and quality throughout the examination process. The realignment recognizes the significant changes made over the past several years on how work is processed. It places a greater emphasis on monitoring and evaluating performance, incorporating quality controls, establishing consistent practices, and providing training. Changes have also been made in performance plans, production measures, and workflows, which now mostly rely on electronic processing and file records to support core examination activities.

Documentation from the process mapping will be used to complete the design requirements and complete implementation of the electronic workflow and file management system.

E-Filing and E-Management of Applications — The percent of trademark applications filed electronically has steadily increased over the past four years to the current level of 95.4 percent. Electronic management of trademark applications continued at 99.9 percent in FY 2007.

Graph summarizing the trademark applications filed electronically for the last four fiscal years.D

Graph summarizing the trademark applications managed electronically for the last four fiscal years.D

The Trademark organization reached a major milestone on November 29, 2006 – more than one million trademark applications have been filed since TEAS was first piloted nine years ago. The USPTO hosted a celebration in January honoring Donald Junck, a South Dakota entrepreneur who filed the one-millionth Web-based trademark application using TEAS. Other filers were also honored.

The Trademark organization released additional enhancements for TEAS forms in March to expand the acceptance of Portable Document Format (PDF) attachments to the initial application form. Changes were made to align forms with examiner guidance, ensure consistent ordering of identifications, and automatically update some fields in the post registration forms.

Photo of Donald Junck, of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, receiving a plaque from USPTO Director Jon Dudas and Commissioner Lynne Beresford recognizing that Mr. Junck was the one-millionth electronic trademark filer. The Trademark e-filing system became available worldwide in 1998. More than 95 percent of all new U.S. trademark applications are now filed electronically.

One-millionth E-Filer — Donald Junck, of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, receives a plaque from USPTO Director Jon Dudas and Commissioner Lynne Beresford recognizing that Mr. Junck was the one-millionth electronic trademark filer. The Trademark e-filing system became available worldwide in 1998. More than 95 percent of all new U.S. trademark applications are now filed electronically.

Trademark Efficiency –This following metric measures the relative cost-effectiveness of the entire trademark examination process over time, or the efficiency with which the organization applies its resources to production.

Graph summarizing the efficiency rates for trademarks issued for the last four fiscal years.D

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