United States Patent and Trademark Office OG Notices: 25 October 2005

             Search and Examination of International Applications
                  Filed Under the Patent Cooperation Treaty

   The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is currently
exploring several approaches to better manage the workload on the USPTO in
its capacity as an international searching authority (ISA) and
international preliminary examining authority (IPEA) under the Patent
Cooperation Treaty (PCT). Improvements in the ability to manage that
workload will better enable the USPTO to focus its resources towards
reducing the backlog of pending national applications and enhance its
ability to meet the PCT time limits for issuance of the various reports
required under the PCT.

   In FY 2004, the USPTO received over 45,000 PCT applications and was
selected as the ISA or IPEA in over 25,000 applications. During the same
time, the USPTO received over 350,000 regularly filed U.S. patent
applications. Projections for FY 2005 call for substantial increases in
both of these numbers. As is evident from these statistics on PCT filings,
the USPTO faces the challenging task of performing the increasing workload
due to the international search and preliminary examination functions
required of an ISA and IPEA under the PCT, while also addressing workload
and pendency issues with respect to national applications.

   The USPTO is exploring entering into arrangements with other established
intellectual property offices that currently serve as an ISA and IPEA to
perform, on a pilot basis, some of the international search and
international preliminary examining functions currently performed by the
USPTO in its capacity as an ISA and IPEA. If the pilots are successful, the
USPTO may make such arrangements permanent. PCT applications for which an
international search and/or international preliminary examination will be
performed by another intellectual property office would be selected by the
USPTO based on the terms of the agreement with such offices.

   Additionally, the USPTO awarded contracts to commercial entities on
September 9, 2005, in response to the Office's April 29, 2005 solicitation
for proposals for a PCT search pilot program. (Information concerning this
solicitation is available at
The purpose of this pilot program is to determine whether prior art
searches by commercial entities can be performed at a cost effective rate
while maintaining the accuracy and quality standards for searches conducted
by the USPTO during the patent examination process. This pilot will
commence early in the first quarter of FY06.

   Although increased efficiency and ability to process the applications
filed with the Office are very important, the USPTO remains committed to
ensuring that the quality of the work products produced is of the high
level we all expect and demand. Efficient government operations and high
quality results are cornerstones of the President's Management Agenda and
the guiding principles for these efforts. The Office will be providing
updates on these programs as progress develops.

September 19, 2005                                          JOSEPH J. ROLLA
                                            Acting Commissioner for Patents