Statement by USPTO Chief Communications Officer Patrick Ross on the Inspector General report: Patent Examiners’ Time and Attendance.

Statement Attributable to USPTO Chief Communications Officer Patrick Ross on summary of Commerce Department’s Office of the Inspector General report on Patent Examiners’ Time and Attendance:

The USPTO takes its obligation to meet our critical missions very seriously. We appreciate the work of the Department of Commerce’s Office of Inspector General (OIG), as we continue to focus on time and attendance compliance among USPTO employees. This report serves as a resource in our ongoing efforts to improve.

It is important to recognize and understand that the OIG report did not focus on individual employees; instead, it was based on a comparative analysis of large computer record data sets. Specifically, the OIG reviewed the total number of hours claimed by more than 8,400 patent examiners during a 15-month period between 2014-2015 to determine whether a corresponding digital footprint existed based on specific data points such as computer log-ins or security badge-in data. The OIG concluded that there was a lack of a digital footprint in approximately 2% of the total hours claimed by the patent examiners during the 15 month period – a percentage that continued to shrink following the introduction of new USPTO controls, and during the course of the IG review. The USPTO recognizes that there may be many reasons for the lack of a digital footprint and is committed to analyzing the recommendations offered by the OIG, continuing to conduct our own review, and, if needed, improving the extensive measures already implemented.

USPTO is proud to attract the best and the brightest team of professionals who exemplify our culture of hard work, dedication, innovation, and results. The performance of USPTO personnel is central to our mission as the nation’s innovation agency. Over the last two years, we have delivered great results in all aspects of our business. Our pendency rates have decreased, we are improving patent quality, the Trademarks team continues its stellar work, and administrative boards have been expedient and their decisions largely upheld by appellate courts.