USPTO Contracts International Patent Application Searches to Commercial Firms

Pilot Program to Determine Viability of Contracting Out U.S. Searches
Press Release

Brigid Quinn or Ruth Nyblod

Washington - The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) announced today that it has awarded contracts to Landon IP, Inc., and IP Data Miner Inc., to participate in a Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) search pilot program. This pilot will determine whether searches by commercial entities can maintain the accuracy and quality standards for searches conducted by the USPTO during the patent examination process while remaining cost effective.

This year, USPTO expects to receive over 45,000 requests to search and/or examine international applications. USPTO's patent examiners currently do this in addition to the 350,000 U.S. applications the agency receives each year. By outsourcing some of the processing of international applications, the USPTO can focus on reducing the backlog of pending national applications, thus increasing productivity and enhancing quality. Efficient and high quality government operations are cornerstones of the President's Management Agenda and guiding principles for this effort.

The PCT, an international agreement to which the United States is a party, simplifies filing patent applications in its 128 member states. The USPTO is one of many authorized offices that searches and examines international patent applications filed under the PCT. An international application may be used as a national application for a patent in any of the designated PCT countries. International applicants request PCT-related search and examination reports to help them determine if an application meets basic patent criteria, such as novelty and non-obviousness, before committing to the high cost of translating and filing an application in one or more PCT countries.

The USPTO is also exploring contracting out some of its PCT-related work, on a pilot basis, to other established government intellectual property offices that currently perform PCT-related searches/examinations. This pilot is expected to begin next month.

Information concerning the existing pilot program is available at .