|Performance and Accountability Report Fiscal Year 2007
Management's Discussion and Analysis
Optimize Patent Quality and Timeliness
As outlined in the 2007-2012 Strategic Plan, the Patent organization will continue to emphasize quality and timely examination. Our intention is to implement several rule changes to provide examiners with the best information, to better focus on examinations, and to maximize the value of communication with applicants. Working with its stakeholders, the USPTO will explore how it can share responsibility for patent quality with applicants.
To build and retain the high-quality examiner corps needed, the Patent organization will continue hiring 1,200 examiners per year in FY 2008 and into the future. With the refinement of end-to-end electronic processing environment and the move toward e-filing of applications and related documents, the Patent organization will move closer to becoming a nationwide work force. These actions will help to make the Agency even more responsive to the ever increasing demand for patents.
The Office of the General Counsel is also defending several cases pending before the Federal Circuit involving the scope of subject matter eligible for patent protection. Because the boundaries of patent eligibility in certain areas remain ambiguous, we anticipate that the Federal Circuit will issue precedential opinions in these appeals in the next year. These opinions will provide guidance to our patent examiners on evaluating the fundamental issue of what types of claimed inventions qualify for patent protection.
Optimize Trademark Quality and Timeliness
The Trademark organization will build on its accomplishments and work toward meeting the objectives of the 2007-2012 Strategic Plan. The Trademark organization will continue to work with its customers to ensure that the objectives remain aligned with their needs.
The Trademark organization will continue to assess the efficiency of its operations going forward, and incorporate process improvement in the incremental redesign of the electronic workflow and file management system. The USPTO will also continue to use e-government as the primary means of doing business with applicants and registrants, and as a means of processing work within the Trademark organization.
First-action pendency has reached the long-term target range of 2.5 to 3.5 months. The Trademark organization must strike a proper balance between forecasting levels of new filings, existing inventories, and managing an appropriately sized staff to ensure sufficient resources are available to maintain this goal on a consistent basis. Completing the electronic workflow and file management system throughout the entire process will provide better automated tools and consistency for managing workloads and provide better services to its customers.
Improve Intellectual Property Protection and Enforcement Domestically and Abroad
The USPTO will continue strong advocacy policies that ensure that IP rights, such as patents, trademarks, and copyrights, are recognized as essential tools for economic growth in both developed and developing economies. This is particularly important in light of misperceptions, such as the misperception that strong IP protection hinders development. The USPTO will continue to work with international partners to promote a strong and effective IP regime, that provides adequate and effective incentives for innovation and creativity, worldwide, including within organizations such as the WIPO, the WTO, and the United Nations Human Rights Commission.
The USPTO must continue to advocate pro-IP principles as endorsed by the “Group of Eight” (G8) countries — Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States — to assist all countries in adopting and effectively enforcing adequate levels of IP protection for the benefit of all citizens. This will be accomplished by advising other Federal agencies on domestic and international IP policy, and by continually expanding our IP training and technical assistance internationally.
The USPTO will continue to search for solutions to its workload, examination quality, and e-government challenges by taking the lead on cooperative initiatives with other IP offices throughout the world. This will result in progress in the areas of work-sharing, examination practice uniformity, and electronic access and compatibility. Finally, the Agency will continue to address policy and legal matters relating to all legislative proposals relating to IP and the USPTO, especially in the context of the continuing debate over proposed changes to the patent laws of the United States.
Achieve Organizational Excellence
USPTO leaders will continue to work together with its business partners to: lead and support efforts to improve efficiency; develop and implement an effective, comprehensive communication plan; recruit and retain the best, brightest, and most talented staff with the necessary skill sets; improve internal monitoring and reporting of organizational goals and objectives (by implementing and expanding performance measures and service level agreements); streamline access to USPTO information, data, and services; implement faster, more secure information exchange; and continue expansion of e-filing, e-processing, and other e-government efforts. In FY 2008, the USPTO will also take steps to improve its ability to be more responsive and better manage and deliver quality products at enhanced service levels. This will be accomplished by reducing the cost and complexity of systems, establishing and enforcing more standards, and practicing continual process improvement.
In addition, the OCIO will continue to:
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