USPTO and The George Washington University School of Business Team Up for 2008 International MBA Business Case Competition

MBA Students Compete to Find Solutions to Agency's Patent Pendency and Backlog
Press Release

Jennifer Rankin Byrne or
Ruth Nyblod
Phone: (571) 272-8400 or

Washington, D.C. - The George Washington University School of Business has partnered with the Department of Commerce's United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for its 2008 International Business Case Competition. The competition has brought together 18 teams of MBA students from around the world, each of whom will present proposed solutions to the pressing issues of patent pendency and backlog at the USPTO. The competition will culminate on March 28-29 at the Washington Marriott Hotel, when the teams will present their proposals to a panel of judges, including USPTO senior management executives and business leaders from an array of industries including finance, technology, hospitality, consulting and others.

Patent pendency is the amount of time it takes from the time a patent application is filed until the USPTO makes a final decision as to whether to grant the patent. The backlog is how many patents are currently waiting to be examined. Currently, the backlog stands at more than 760,000 patent applications, and the average pendency is approximately 32 months. Patent offices around the world are experiencing similar or greater backlogs and wait times, due to the rapid growth of innovation and increasing complexity of technology, among other issues.

"When GW expressed their interest in examining the USPTO's pendency and backlog challenges as the case study in this competition, we saw it as a rare and exciting opportunity to garner new, fresh perspectives on how to address these important issues," said Margaret Peterlin, Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director of the USPTO. "We look forward to the recommendations of these talented business students as they apply their business operations coursework to our real-life challenges. We also hope it is the start of a dialogue that will continue beyond the competition."

"The MBA teams bring a wide variety of business experience and perspective to the competition which have been very helpful to the case client organizations," according to Professor Jim Thurman, author of many of the cases used in the competition. "MBA students are able to see concepts and relationships which may not be readily apparent to the people so close to the issues."

The teams were presented with the business case challenge in late February and have been working on their proposals and presentations since that time. On March 28-29, the judges will see a presentation by each team, then ultimately choose first, second and third place winning teams. The USPTO will have the option to develop and implement ideas presented by the teams in the competition.

The George Washington University's School of Business has been hosting the International Business Case Competition for 15 years. The USPTO is the first federal agency to serve as a case study for the competition. Past participating organizations have included AARP, National Geographic Society, National Public Radio, Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority and The American Red Cross.

Teams participating in the 2008 International Business Case Competition represent 18 masters of business administration programs from around the world, including Copenhagen Business School (Frederiksberg, Denmark), American University Kogod School of Business (Washington, D.C.), SDA Bocconi School of Management (Milan, Italy), Baylor University Hankamer School of Business (Waco, Texas), Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (Clear Water Bay, Hong Kong), and others.