Washington - The Department of Commerce's United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has begun an aggressive and robust quality assurance program as part of its recently announced 21st Century Strategic Plan. The comprehensive effort will focus on all stages of the examination process and the recruitment, hiring, training and continuous certification of examiners and managers. "I cannot stress enough the central role quality plays in all elements of the strategic plan," said James E. Rogan, Director of the USPTO. "Providing the tools and the resources to ensure that we have a highly qualified certified knowledge-based, accountable workforce is key to ensuring quality."
Examiners and managers will receive expanded training to build and reinforce their knowledge and skills. They will be tested and certified on a regular basis. Those who fail the certification tests will be enrolled in refresher courses. "A well trained workforce is the most significant contributing factor in ensuring the quality of our products. By making it a continuous process, we will greatly enhance the ability of our employees to be successful and meet the expectations of our customers," Director Rogan added.
Under proposals announced as part of the plan, the USPTO will change its method of recruiting patent examiners to improve the caliber of new hires. This will include a greater emphasis on the technical and communication skills of applicants in addition to their ability to grasp legal concepts. The ability to communicate effectively has emerged as a prominent customer concern over the last several years.
In unveiling the 21st Century Strategic Plan in June, Director Rogan described an office "under siege" as it celebrates its bicentennial year. The plan is designed to respond to the challenge of increased filings and pendency by transforming the USPTO from a one-size-fits-all government bureaucracy into a quality-focused, responsive market-driven intellectual property system that reflects the values of President Bush's Management Agenda.
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