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Trademark Performance for the year 2005

  

Trademark Performance

The Trademark organization continues to build upon its progress toward achieving the e-government objectives of the 21st Century Strategic Plan , which relies on electronic communications to offer market based services and improve the availability of trademark information to more effectively serve an increasingly larger, global client-base. Electronic access increases the opportunity for filing for federal registration, which provides protection to business owners and consumers by providing notice of marks in use. Electronic filing and information systems serve customers in two very important ways: by improving the time and accessibility of information and by improving the quality of the initial application and therefore the quality of the data that is captured and shared in the publication and registration of trademarks.

Photo showing Under Secretary Dudas congratulating Commissioner for Trademarks Lynne Beresford after swearing her in.

Under Secretary Dudas congratulates Commissioner for Trademarks Lynne Beresford after swearing her in.

The USPTO established more options for filing a trademark registration, consistent with its 21st Century Strategic Plan , to create financial and market-based incentives and encourage greater participation in the U.S. trademark system. Trademark owners can now select the option that best meets their needs — with the highest fees for filing on paper, lower fees for filing electronically, and the lowest fees for both filing and prosecuting electronically. The trademark user community has benefited from the introduction of three options for filing for registration, which has allowed trademark filers to pay $1.7 million less in filing fees than they otherwise would have paid. In the first eleven weeks when customers had a choice of three options for filing, 10 percent of applications were filed on paper, 68 percent were filed electronically, and 22 percent were filed under the newest option with the lowest filing fee.

The USPTO achieved a major milestone in maximizing electronic tools to make the trademark registration process fully transparent to the public through the Trademark Document Retrieval (TDR) System, anyone with Internet access anywhere in the world can review documents in the official trademark application file, including all decisions made by trademark examining attorneys and their reasons for making them.

The USPTO has discontinued the practice of creating and maintaining paper file copies of trademark applications and now relies exclusively on trademark data submitted or captured electronically to support trademark examination, publication of documents, and granting of registrations. During FY 2005, a number of improvements were made that increased efficiency and provided better internal controls for tracking the status of correspondence and progress of work performed and completed. These changes in practice are a result of the on-going progress made in creating and using electronic records to process and examine applications filed for registration of a trademark. A complete electronic records database covering all trademark applications including ongoing correspondence was created by capturing the text and image of nearly 500,000 pending paper files and documents. The database supports paperless examination as the source of application records used within the Trademark organization.

Electronic systems continued to be upgraded to increase the number and type of transactions that can be completed. Significant process changes and enhancements have been incorporated that provide the capability to manage all examiner actions and dockets in a completely electronic environment as well as manage the assignment of new applications. Changes were made in the past year to eliminate the need for manual processing of files for transactions that are required to process marks for publication and registration. These changes improve workflow functionality and eliminate the need to have paper files to manage the work and take office actions for the core trademark examination and registration process.

Electronic communications make it possible to conduct a preliminary search prior to filing an application; determine the status of pending and registered trademarks; respond to office actions; access general information, examination manuals, treaties, laws and regulations; obtain weekly information on marks published, registered, and renewed; file initial applications; and maintain a registered mark through the USPTO website. The USPTO publishes a weekly Trademark Official Gazette that contains information covering several thousand marks and other office actions electronically. The weekly publication is fully electronic; text and images that contain the layout are extracted from electronic records and sent to the Government Printing Office for printing registration certificates. The weekly Trademark Official Gazette, Registration Certificates, and Updated Registration Certificates for the five most recent weekly issues are available electronically from the USPTO website. The entire publication, including registration certificates, are available as a PDF file that can be downloaded free via the Internet, providing expanded, as well as more timely access to trademark information.

The USPTO achieved several milestones by expanding the content and accessibility of trademark information in the past year. In the seven years since electronic filing first became available, more than 716,000 applications, including more than 900,000 classes, have been filed for the registration of a trademark. Today, more than 88 percent of all new trademark applications are filed using the award-winning Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS), an increase of more than 21 percent over FY 2004 results.

 

 

Photo showing Congressman Tom Feeney (Republican-Florida), who serves on the Financial Services and Judiciary committees and represents Florida's 24th District (center), listening as senior trademark attorney Terry Rupp (left), explains trademark searching.

Congressman Tom Feeney (R-FL), who serves on the Financial Services and Judiciary committees and represents Florida's 24th District (center), listens as senior trademark attorney Terry Rupp (left), explains trademark searching.

Over the past year, the Trademark organization has continued to enhance the features available to the public as well as working to ensure the overall transformation of the Trademark organization as an effective e-government operation. Twenty-six electronic TEAS forms are now available and new forms have been added in the past year, expanding the number and type of transactions that can be completed on-line. The availability of more types of transactions as well as the convenience of trademark related information available via the Internet, improves our ability to provide timely, useful information, as well as stimulating demand for more services.

TEAS was recognized in FY 2005 as one of five winners at the Excellence.Gov Awards ceremony in Washington, D.C. on February 9th as an example of a best practice in federal e-government implementation. TEAS was selected from a pool of 80 outstanding federal e-government programs that demonstrated high customer satisfaction, strong market segment penetration, broad stakeholder acceptance, and improved program utilization over time.

Madrid Protocol

The process of registering trademarks in one or more of the 60 members of the Madrid Protocol has been greatly improved since the United States became a member of the Madrid Protocol on November 2, 2003. U.S. business owners are now able to file a single application with the USPTO in English, pay in U.S. dollars, and potentially have their mark protected in any or all of the Members of the Protocol. Non-U.S. trademark owners of Madrid members may elect to seek an extension of protection of their international registration in the U.S. by filing through the International Bureau of the WIPO. The USPTO received 2,772 international applications and 9,976 requests for extension of protection or subsequent designation containing 19,635 classes from the International Bureau under the Protocol.

Trilateral Project

Representatives from the USPTO, the European Union’s Office of Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM), and the Japan Patent Office (JPO) continue their work on harmonization of identifications project. The objective of the Trilateral Identification and Classification Manual Project is to make the trademark application and examination process easier by agreeing on the acceptability of certain identifications of goods and services for use in all three offices. The Trademark Identification Manual is updated to incorporate identifications for goods and services that have been accepted as a result of efforts through this project.

The USPTO began development of a secure web site to enable representatives from the USPTO, OHIM, and JPO to add to, delete from, or modify the identifications of goods and services that were accepted during the first phase of Trilateral Identification and Classification Manual Project. Future work on the web site will include incorporating the suggestions and comments of representatives from OHIM and JPO. The site is expected to be available in FY 2006.

Quality

During the past year, the Trademark organization worked to establish a more consistent quality measure that would better reflect the current quality of examination. The criteria expands on the issues that are considered for determining the quality of “in-process” first and final office actions as “excellent” and “deficient” to better reflect more meaningful and rigorous standards of quality. The information from these reviews has been used to identify and focus training to enhance overall product quality and to improve the consistency of examination. Four new training modules under section 2(a) and (d) of the Trademark Act were prepared to address some of the recurring problems that were determined based on analyses of the reviews. Examiners are required to take a series of self-paced tutorials in support of the USPTO’s commitment to improve the quality of examination and ensure all that all Examiners maintain the knowledge and skills necessary to perform their jobs.

Customer Call Center

The USPTO operates a modern call center system with customer relationship management technology to enhance its effectiveness in handling and responding to customer calls and inquiries. The call center is a state-of-the-art web-based information system which enables agents to manage customer data, track problems, fulfill information requests, answer e-mails, and provide consistent information. Data is used to identify trends, track problem resolution, conduct root cause analysis, and take action to prevent and eliminate the recurrence of problems.

Telecommuting

The USPTO continues to gain recognition as a leader in the federal government for its successful telecommuting program. The Trademark telecommuting program was designed so that examiners could perform the same work and access the same IT systems from home as they do in the office. Examiners work from home for a majority of the workweek using an automated reservation system to assign office space on an as-needed basis. The program met its objective to greatly reduce office space requirements and costs. The Trademark program was expanded to include 190 examiners in the past year. Sixty-nine percent of the eligible examiners now take advantage of the program. The program continues to be expanded to include other employees throughout the Trademark organization.

Filings

New application filings for trademark registration increased by 8.4 percent in the past year. The USPTO received 259,932 trademark applications, including 323,501 classes for registration in FY 2005.

Office Disposals

Total office disposals were 205,378, including 252,275 classes, 0.5 percent above plan. Registrations were one percent above plan although registrations decreased by more than eight percent from the prior year to 112,495 including 143,396 classes as the number of pending applications remaining from prior years with higher filings continue to be disposed.

Pending Inventory

Total trademark applications pending in the USPTO increased by more than ten percent in FY 2005 to 497,394 with 653,000 classes. Twenty percent of the pending file inventory is in a post-Notice of Allowance status awaiting the filing of a statement of use. The inventory of unexamined applications at the end of the year was 140,705 containing 171,230 classes; the number of files increased 10.7 percent from the prior fiscal year with numbers of classes increasing by 13.2 percent.

 

PERFORMANCE GOAL: Improve the quality of trademark products and services and optimize trademark processing time.

Under the 21st Century Strategic Plan , the USPTO will continue to work with our intellectual property partners to improve the efficiency of our processing systems by increasing the number of applications and communications received and processed electronically, create more coordinated and streamlined work processes, and best position the USPTO for the globalization that characterizes the 21st century economy. The following performance measure has been established to reflect the USPTO’s success and progress in meeting Trademark Strategic Plan goals.

TRADEMARK QUALITY

MEASURE: Trademark Final Action Deficiency Rate

The Trademark organization implemented two new measures for assessing examination quality in FY 2004 that includes an evaluation for all issues that could be considered deficient in making a substantive refusal. Evaluations are conducted on a random sample of applications to review the quality of decision making of the examiner’s first office action and final action refusal. In FY 2005, 2,253 files were reviewed with 4.7 percent of the files having at least one deficient substantive refusal. Also 2,299 files were reviewed with at least one issue determined for a final action deficiency rate of 5.9 percent.

FINAL ACTION DEFICIENCY RATE

 Graph summarizing the final action deficiency rate for trademarks issued for the last four fiscal years. D

DATA VALIDATION AND VERIFICATION

Data source: Office of Trademark Quality Review Report.

Frequency: Daily input, monthly reporting.

Data storage: Automated systems, reports.

Verification: Manual reports and analysis.

Data Limitations: None.

Target and Actual Final Action Deficiency Rates
for Trademarks Issued for the Last 4 Fiscal Years
  FY 2002 FY 2003 FY 2004 FY 2005
Target - - 5.0% 5.0%
Actual - - 5.8% 5.9% not met

  Discussion: Target not met. We failed to meet this year's target as a conscious effort was made to initially focus on first action quality, which results in applications receiving a high-quality examination. In FY 2005 we exceeded the first action deficiency rate by over 60%. The Trademark organization believes that building quality at the beginning of the process will yield higher quality throughout the process.

We plan on meeting our goal next year as we have implemented quality initiatives to address the current shortcomings. These initiatives are already making an impact; the error rate for the second half of FY 2005 was significantly lower than the error rate at the start of the year. We anticipate further long-term quality improvements in FY 2006.

 

MEASURE: Trademark First Action Deficiency Rate

 

FIRST ACTION DEFICIENCY RATE

 Graph summarizing the first action deficiency rate for trademarks issued for the last four fiscal years. D

DATA VALIDATION AND VERIFICATION

Data source: Office of Trademark Quality Review Report.

Frequency: Daily input, monthly reporting.

Data storage: Automated systems, reports.

Verification: Manual reports and analysis.

Data Limitations: None.

Target and Actual First Action Deficiency Rates
for Trademarks Issued for the Last 4 Fiscal Years
  FY 2002 FY 2003 FY 2004 FY 2005
Target - - 8.3% 7.5%
Actual - - 7.9% 4.7% met

  Discussion: Target met. The Trademark organization established an "in-process review" standard for assessing excellent and deficient work to create a more comprehensive, meaningful, and rigorous review of what constitutes quality. The results of an examiner's first action are reviewed for the quality of the substantive basis for decision-making, search strategy, evidence, and writing. The new measure considers more elements for review and evaluation with training targeted to topics that warrant improvement. Examiners are given specific feedback about excellent as well as deficient work to further improve quality. Quality results achieved exceeded the target set.

 

MEASURE: Reduce Average First Action Pendency

This measure reflects the timeliness of the first office action as measured from the date of application filing to the mailing of the first action.

TRADEMARK FIRST ACTION PENDENCY

 Graph summarizing the first action pendency for trademarks issued for the last four fiscal years.  D

DATA VALIDATION AND VERIFICATION

Data source: TRAM system.

Frequency: Daily input, monthly reporting.

Data storage: TRAM, automated systems, reports.

Verification: Accuracy of supporting data is controlled through internal program edits in the TRAM system. Program management performs final test for reasonableness.

Data Limitations: None.

Target and Actual Trademark First Action Pendency
for the Last 4 Fiscal Years
  FY 2002 FY 2003 FY 2004 FY 2005
Target (months)   3.0 3.0 5.4 6.4
Actual (months)   4.3 5.4 6.6 6.3 met

  Discussion: Target met.

 

MEASURE: Reduce average total pendency

This measure reflects the timeliness related to the disposal of a trademark application as measured from the date of filing to registration, abandonment or issuance of a notice of allowance including applications that are suspended awaiting further action or involved in inter partes proceedings. Disposal pendency including suspended and inter partes cases was 19.6 months. Excluding applications that were suspended or delayed for inter partes proceedings, disposal pendency was 17.2 months.

TRADEMARK FINAL ACTION PENDENCY

 Graph summarizing the final action pendency for trademarks issued for the last four fiscal years. D

DATA VALIDATION AND VERIFICATION

Data source: TRAM system.

Frequency: Daily input, monthly reporting.

Data storage: TRAM, automated systems, reports.

Verification: Accuracy of supporting data is controlled through internal program edits in the TRAM system. Program management performs final test for reasonableness.

Data Limitations: None.

Target and Actual Final Action Trademark Pendency
for the Last 4 Fiscal Years
  FY 2002 FY 2003 FY 2004 FY 2005
Target (months)   15.5 15.5 21.6 20.3
Actual (months)   19.9 19.8 19.5 19.6 met

  Discussion: Target met.  

 

MEASURE: Efficiency

This measure  1 is a relative indicator of the efficiency of the trademark process as measured by the total cost of programs that support the examination and registration of trademarks compared to its core outputs.

TRADEMARK EFFICIENCY

 Graph summarizing the efficiency rates for trademarks issued for the last four fiscal years. D

DATA VALIDATION AND VERIFICATION

Data source: TRAM system, Momentum, Metify ABM.

Frequency: Daily input, quarterly reporting.

Data storage: TRAM, Data Warehouse, Metify ABM.

Verification: Accuracy of supporting data is controlled through internal program edits in TRAM, Momemtum, Metify ABM. Quality control review of data by ABC and Program Business Teams.

Data Limitations: None.

Target and Actual Efficiency Rates for Trademarks Issued
for the Last 4 Fiscal Years
  FY 2002 FY 2003 FY 2004 FY 2005
Target - $683 $583 $701
Actual $487 $433 $542 $677  1 met

  Discussion: Target met. The measure indicates the degree to which the program can operate within plan costs relative to outputs produced. The measure is calculated by dividing the USPTO expenses associated with the examination and processing of trademarks (including associated overhead and support expenses) by outputs (office disposals). It should be noted that this measure does not represent the average cost to process, examine, and register a trademark since disposals are but one measure of USPTO products and services.

  1. This number is preliminary. Data should be finalized by December 2005 and will be reported in the FY 2006 PAR. (back to text)

 1. The USPTO recognizes that there is an inherent difference between the projected obligations in a President's budget that are used to calculate the efficiency measure target, and the actual expenses that are used to calculate the end of year results. This is primarily a timing problem in that targets are calculated 18 months in advance. The USPTO has formed a group of financial management experts to identify alternatives for a better way of calculating this metric. (back to text)

 

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Last Modified: 11/3/2009 4:56:38 PM