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Friday Apr 01, 2011

Automating Petitions Handling to Improve Efficiency

Blog by Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO David Kappos

 

I’d like to discuss patent petitions in general, and in particular, petition decisions. We’ve heard the complaints that it takes too long to get a decision from the Petitions Office.

To address this issue, we’ve just announced that we’re we're automating the filing and decision process for eight (8) patent petition types. These eight petition types cover approximately one-third of the work of the Petitions Office. They will join the two current types of petitions that can be decided electronically (petitions to make special on the basis of age and petitions to accept unintentionally delayed payment of the maintenance fee).

However, what we are initiating for the eight newly automated petitions is a departure from the established way to get a decision. We're automating the process using USPTO's new e-Petition system. With e-Petition, the petitions data is input through a secure web interface and at the push of a button the petition is decided. We are using webforms and an automated workflow to accomplish the task of deciding petitions filed using ePetition. This means that for these eight types of petitions when filed using ePetition, there will be no waiting for the petition to be docketed, no waiting for someone to decide the petition, and no waiting for the decision to be uploaded into Public PAIR.

The eight (8) petition types are as follows:

1. WITHDRAWAL OF ATTORNEY (37 CFR 1.36)

2. WITHDRAW FROM ISSUE AFTER PAYMENT OF ISSUE FEE

3. WITHDRAW FROM ISSUE AFTER PAYMENT OF ISSUE FEE (37 CFR 1.313(c))

4. WITHDRAW FROM ISSUE AFTER PAYMENT OF ISSUE FEE (37 CFR 1.313(c)(1) OR (2)) WITH ASSIGNED PATENT NUMBER

5. WITHDRAW FROM ISSUE UNDER 37 CFR 1.313(c)(3). APPLICATION IS EXPRESSLY ABANDONED.

6. PETITION TO ACCEPT LATE PAYMENT OF ISSUE FEE - UNINTENTIONAL LATE PAYMENT (37 CFR 1.155(c) OR 37 CFR 1.316)

7. PETITIONS UNDER 37 CFR 1.137(f)

8. PETITION TO REVIVE ABANDONED APPLICATION FOR CONTINUITY PURPOSES ONLY

I hope applicants will use the e-Petition system. By using e-Petition, petitioners will also now have more control over when their petitions are filed and answered. This is especially advantageous for critical petitions, such as petitions to withdraw from issue. And deciding petitions electronically will decrease the need for renewed petitions, since petitioners will know instantly whether all technical requirements have been met. Moreover, petitions processed and decided electronically will not add to the inventory of petitions awaiting decision, freeing up the resources currently used to decide these eight types of petitions.

So, processing and issuing more petition decisions electronically should provide an improvement in service to patent applicants, and help improve efficiency of the USPTO. For more specific details on e-Petitions, please see the FAQ’s at http://www.uspto.gov/patents/process/file/efs/guidance/ePetition-FAQs.jsp. The ePetition system is a step forward in the journey of improving the patent system. In this regard, as always, your input on improving the ePetition system is important to us. Please give us your feedback.

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