Washington - The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has launched a study to identify organizations able to process international patent applications. This year, USPTO expects to receive 46,000 requests to search and/or examine international applications. USPTO's patent examiners now do this work, which is in addition to the 350,000 U.S. applications the agency receives each year. With competent private contractors processing international applications, patent examiners could focus on U.S. applications, thus enhancing quality and improving productivity.
USPTO searches and examines international patent applications under the common standards of the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), an international pact that simplifies filing a patent application in its 115 member nations. The 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. Additional information on this Request for Information can be found at: www.uspto.gov/web/offices/ac/comp/proc/srchexam/schexrfi.htm.