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Friday Jun 07, 2019

Continuing to improve our IT infrastructure

By Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO Andrei Iancu and Chief Information Officer of the USPTO Jamie Holcombe

One of our chief goals at the United States Patent and Trademark Office is to provide consistent, reliable, and high-quality services to all of our stakeholders, in every aspect of their engagement with our office. A major component of providing these services is the ease-of-use and availability of the USPTO’s information technology systems.

In the past several months, we have committed personnel and resources to increasing the stability and availability of our IT infrastructure, and deploying state-of-the-art technology throughout our entire enterprise.

Close up photo of the front side of the old PALM server, informally called T-REX, and no longer in use.

USPTO’s previous PALM server, currently no longer in use. (Photo by Jay Premack/USPTO)

Over the most recent Memorial Day weekend, we reached an important milestone in that effort. Thanks to the hard work of our IT team and the assistance of an expert outside technology firm, we successfully transitioned a critical part of our Patent Application Locating and Monitoring (PALM) application to a new, more modern, stable and resilient server platform. The previous IT platform was almost two decades old. It was difficult to maintain given the age of its hardware and coding, and risked failing without notice. We are proud to announce that we have a new PALM server platform that is 1,000 times faster, 20 times more efficient, and far more stable and less prone to failure.

As many of our regular users are aware, last August, the USPTO suffered a database corruption issue in a portion of the PALM application that impacted some of our other servers. Those servers were also old, so we immediately replaced them at that time.

Unfortunately, the PALM-related systems failure caused parts of our electronic filing system to be offline for several days last summer.

We decided to take a fresh look at our entire IT systems, from top to bottom.

We performed an exhaustive analysis of our hardware and software systems. We hired a consulting firm that specializes in our types of complex IT systems. We hired a new Chief Information Officer who has extensive experience both in the private sector and in government. And we resolved to stabilize and modernize all of our IT systems. Our Memorial Day upgrade is a significant step in this multi-stage journey toward increased productivity, reliability and resiliency.

Needless to say, a fully modernized IT system that will remain operational per industry standards is a large-scale project that requires significantly more work. We have made the commitment to make the investments that are required to achieve that goal, and will not shy away from any of the challenges that lie ahead.

An improved IT infrastructure is critically important to help the USPTO better serve the inventors, entrepreneurs, and the rest of the public that comes before us. Their pioneering innovations and brands create jobs, improve the quality of life, and drive economic progress.

We will continue to work with our external partners, stakeholders, and employees to ensure that the U.S. Intellectual Property System leads the world in driving global innovation and entrepreneurship.

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