The Department of Commerce's United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is building a library of search templates for use by applicants, patent practitioners and patent examiners to assist them in finding evidence, known as prior art, to help determine if an invention is patentable. Similar to a library card catalog, the search templates will direct searchers to information on relevant fields of search, databases and scientific journals considered germane to particular technologies and inventions. The search templates will aid in more thorough prior art searches, which should result in better quality patents.
"These new tools are just part of the USPTO's larger effort to make the U.S. patent examination process even more efficient and effective," noted Under Secretary for Intellectual Property Jon Dudas. "Quality is a shared responsibility. With input and information from our patent examiners and the public, the USPTO can provide a better compilation of relevant resources for all users of America's patent system. Effective search templates will help both the USPTO and the public determine where to find the most relevant prior art more easily and accurately."
An important aspect of examining a patent is the examiner's review of patent documents, both U.S. and foreign, and other literature related to the invention. During this search, the examiner consults the appropriate patent databases, scientific and technical journals and other printed material, which might disclose the invention claimed in the application. The examiner then can determine the patentability of a claimed invention in light of the prior art discovered by this search.
Thirty-eight templates are available now on the USPTO's Web site at www.uspto.gov/web/patents/searchtemplates/class.htm , and approximately 50 templates will be added to the site each week. When the initial project is completed, about 1,300 search templates covering more than 600 classes and subclasses of technology will be available.
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