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Strategic Plan > Index to Action Papers > Trademark Quality Improvement: In Process Review and Second-Pair-of-Eyes

Trademark Quality Improvement:
In Process Review and Second-Pair-of-Eyes

Action:


The Trademark Operation will incorporate in-process review and/or "second pair of eyes" into its examination and review process to improve the quality of examination.

Background Information:


Trademark examining attorneys, examining applications for the registration of trademarks in the Trademark Operation, are moved through a series of training courses and certification procedures until they are authorized to work independently and are solely responsible for decisions to refuse marks or approve for publication. The authority to work independently is known as "full signatory authority." Currently, the only review of work of "full signatory" examiners is done by the Office of Trademark Quality Review (OTQR) and their managing attorney under the performance appraisal plan. Both review processes only include a small percentage of actions taken by the examining attorney.

However, the Trademark Operation currently receives a fairly large number of complaints regarding first office actions taken by examining attorneys related to the need for the action and/or the consistency of the office action.

The Trademark Operation recently initiated a pilot project focused on the monitoring of the quality of first actions. This pilot in-process review activity regarding first actions indicates that improvements in quality of office actions taken by examining attorneys, regardless of their experience in the Office, is needed.

Options Considered:


Option 1


Create an internal in-process review for first actions where a statistically significant sample of first actions is reviewed for quality and correctness. Information will be collected in a database and used to identify training needs either for individual examining attorneys or for the organization if the problem appears to be endemic.

Advantages:

       Results would lead to targeted training for examiners or on specific issues, which should allow the Trademark Operation to address "real time" quality issues and substantially improve the quality of office actions.

Disadvantages:

       Cost

Option 2


Create "second pair of eyes" review with a focus on statutory refusals for "expedited" examination options. Review would not encompass reexamination, but would focus on necessity of refusal and on the quality of the office action with a requirement for rework if the office action did not meet standards.

Advantages:

       Eliminate unnecessary refusals

       Encourage use of e-filing and "expedited" examination process

       Addresses concerns of applicants regarding consistency and quality

Disadvantages:

       Increased cost and/or lower production (if review is done by examining attorneys)

Option 3


No change to current system.


Advantages:

       Lowest cost

Disadvantages:

       Quality issues will not be effectively addressed

Proof of Concept:


The USPTO has an existing cadre of experienced attorney advisors responsible for assessing examination quality from a statistically significant sample of applications each year. The results of these evaluations are published annually as a measure of examination quality.

The USPTO will design a pilot to test the viability of the concept to create a "second pair of eyes" review process.

Input from the user community will be considered in the design of the pilot program. The results of the pilot will be evaluated and shared with the user community prior to making a decision regarding substantial changes or resource investments.

Timeline:


       Implemented "in-process review" on October 1, 2002.

       Seek input from the user community on the design and evaluation of program to test "second pair of eyes" in fiscal year 2003 through presentations to the user community, discussions with the Public Advisory Committee for Trademarks and through Official Gazette notices soliciting comments.

       Propose/conduct a pilot program to test the concept.

       Share the results of the pilot program with the user community.

       Implement "second pair of eyes" following successful results of a pilot program and consultation with user groups following implementation of the Trademark Information System (TIS) and expedited examination.
Implementation Schedule
Work Breakdown StructureTask NameStartFinishProject Lead
26Quality 4: T-05 In-process Review & 2nd Pair of Eyes10/01/0110/01/04L. Beresford
26AT-05A Enhance "in-process" quality review through evaluations and changes to the internal quality review function10/01/0110/01/04 
26A.1Pilot and evaluate in-process review; establish in-process review (T-05A)12/03/0112/31/02 
26A.2Review/evaluate quality of first office action (T-05A)01/02/0212/31/02 
26A.3Review/evaluate quality of final actions (T-05A)07/02/0212/31/02 
26A.4Review/evaluate quality of examiner statements (T-05A)10/07/0209/01/03 
26A.5Transfer OQMT/TMQR and training to the Trademark Organization (T-05A)06/03/0210/01/02 
26A.6Establish TM Quality Review and TM Training Office (T-05A)10/01/0212/31/02 
26A.7Implement the revised performance standards/measures (T-05A)10/01/0112/31/02 
26A.8Incorporate quality review findings into training and testing materials (T-05A)10/01/0212/31/02 
26A.9Determine how the program will be administered/supported in the future (T-05A)01/02/0303/03/03 
26A.10Recruit and hire positions (T-05A)03/17/0306/02/03 
26A.11Consult with the TPAC and user community on the quality objectives and results (T-05A)02/03/0306/02/03 
26A.12Address labor relations implications (T-05A)07/01/0308/01/03 
26A.16Replace current internal quality review standards and process with "in-process" review; report results of performance measures on a monthly and quarterly basis (T-05A)01/06/0310/30/03 
26BT-05B Create a program to review and evaluate substantive decisions to ensure quality and consistency of examiner actions with FasTrak examination02/03/0309/30/04 
26B.1Consult with the TPAC and user community on the quality objectives; design of the pilot program (T-05B)02/03/0306/02/03 
26B.2Define quality objectives; assessment and feedback criteria (T-05B)10/01/0304/01/04 
26B.3Pilot "second pair of eyes" concurrent with TIS e-government and FasTrak examination (T-05B)11/03/0302/02/04 
26B.4Evaluate the results of the pilot program; share the results with the user community (T-05B)02/02/0403/01/04 
26B.5Determine how the program will be administered/supported (T-05B)03/01/0404/01/04 
26B.6Recruit and hire positions; as needed (T-05B)04/01/0406/01/04 
26B.7Address labor relations implications (T-05B)03/01/0405/03/04 
26B.8Assess changes to employee PAPs (T-05B)04/01/0406/01/04 
26B.9Communicate the purpose and requirements of the program (T-05B)05/03/0406/01/04 
26B.10Implement "second pair of eyes" to ensure quality of FasTrak examination decisions (T-05B)06/01/0409/30/04 
KEY: e Biz=online business system fees=fees forms=formshelp=help laws and regs=laws/regulations definition=definition (glossary)

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