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Thursday Aug 04, 2011

Patents Ombudsman Pilot Program to Go Permanent

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

Early last year, we launched our Patents Ombudsman Pilot Program as part of our strategic priorities to increase patent processing effectiveness, provide new channels to help resolve issues, and improve relations with the USPTO stakeholder community.  I am pleased to report that the pilot has helped do all of this. Since its launch, the Ombudsman Points of Contact (PoCs) in each of our Technology Centers have handled over 500 inquiries from patent applicants or their representatives and have addressed those inquiries in an average of 2 business days –faster than our promise of 10 business days! My congratulations and thanks go to the hardworking and prompt PoCs for this program.

To find out whether the pilot program met the needs of our stakeholders, we conducted two surveys, one in October 2010 (six month mark) and one in May 2011 (one year mark). The results of both surveys showed that more than two-thirds of the respondents were either satisfied or very satisfied. And in the May 2011 survey, more than 90 percent of respondents said that the program should be made permanent. That response is an overwhelming endorsement of the Ombudsman pilot program.

What do our stakeholders use the program for? They use it for a wide-range of reasons, from status inquiries to complicated petitions issues. Sometimes, applicants use the pilot program when they just don’t know who to contact.  All good, and all exactly why the Ombudsman program was created -- to provide a channel for resolving issues that may not fit into existing channels.  You can learn more about how and why to use the Ombudsman program on our website.

With its excellent track-record for timeliness, and clearly high marks from users, I'm pleased to announce that in the coming weeks we will be making the program permanent. We’ll be sure to announce any changes that will be made in going from the pilot to the permanent program. I look forward to the permanent program serving as an important part of USPTO’s commitment to providing our stakeholders with great service.  And as always, I would greatly appreciate your comments and feedback -- on the Patents Ombudsman program or any other matter involving USPTO.

Comments:

This is an excellent resource which should help both the Office and applicants (especially pro se) and attorneys in unfamiliar or infrequently used procedures, provided the timeliness continues. The key to usefulness is the timeliness, as these questions will frequently arise under the pressure of a deadline and providing the answer via the ombudsman response may save PTO time in handling an improper filing which is avoided by timely explanation or guidance by the Ombudsman. I would suggest notice of this resource be provided in all Office Actions for the next year so that those who do not follow this blog are made aware of the availability of this resource.

Posted by Bruce Burdick on August 06, 2011 at 04:56 PM EDT #

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