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Tuesday May 10, 2016

Patent Quality Community Symposium Gathers Public Feedback on USPTO Programs

Blog by Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO Michelle K. Lee

The USPTO held an all-day Patent Quality Community Symposium on April 27, 2016, bringing together a broad range of stakeholders—patent prosecutors, litigators, inventors, academics, and patent examiners—for a public discussion about patent quality. More than 2,200 individuals attended at the peak, including in-person at USPTO headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia, at our Regional Offices (in Detroit, Denver, Dallas, and San Jose), and online.

Since we kicked off our efforts at last year’s Patent Quality Summit, we have focused on developing programs designed to enhance quality through identifying best practices and leveraging the latest in technological advances and international collaborations. 

I opened the day with a summary of our major efforts.  Following me were presentations featuring highlights of our accomplishments so far, including:

  • The launch of our Clarity of the Record Pilot Program, which uses a group of approximately 175 volunteer examiners to explore best practices for enhancing the clarity of specific parts of the prosecution record;
  • The extensive legal training we’re providing to examiners (most recently on section 112(a) and on section 101 “abstract idea” analysis); and
  • How we’re leveraging international collaborations to get the best prior art—including harder-to-find foreign language prior art—in front of examiners early in prosecution.

Deputy Director Russell Slifer outlined our recent advances in using “big data”—mining large collections of data—to identify trends and patterns and improve patent quality.  This will help us to improve consistency and identify areas for targeted training, as well as better measure the impact of training and increase the transparency of our operations.

The symposium also included two interactive segments. The first was a workshop on our Master Review Form (MRF), one of our newest efforts to improve the measurement and reporting of patent quality, announced in the Federal Register on March 26. The MRF provides a standardized way to review USPTO work products, such as office actions, which places greater emphasis on assessing the clarity of an examiner’s reasoning while maintaining focus on the correctness of that action. Read more about the Master Review Form. We continue to welcome your input as we work towards our first revision of the Form—the comment period for the Federal Register Notice closes May 24, 2016. The second interactive portion was a panel of experienced patent practitioners who discussed the role that both attorneys and applicants play in patent quality.

Thank you all for your participation in the Patent Quality Community Symposium, and for your continued collaboration on our Enhanced Patent Quality Initiative.  If you missed this event, I encourage you to watch any portion of the recording that interests you, view our slide show presentation on the Patent Quality Community Symposium page, or read more about each of our programs on the USPTO website.

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