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Wednesday Oct 13, 2010

Reflections on the USPTO Dashboard

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

It is great to see the comments we’ve received since posting the initial Data Visualization Center dashboard on September 7.  Beginning this month, the USPTO will provide updates to the dashboard on or about the 10th of each. Month. 

 The September data we are posting presently shows a significant decrease in the backlog – down to 708,000 -- coupled with improvements in quality and increases in our work output across the board – from allowances to rejections to interviews, to name a few items.  In short, we are doing more of everything and we think that is a good thing.

 All in all, Fiscal Year 2010 was a remarkable year for our Patents team and the September dashboard data reflects that.   During the last 12 months, patent processing systems were closely studied to determine where improvements could be made to provide the greatest increase in efficiency, examination capacity, and workflow.  Patents then executed these improvements across the board.

 The Compact Prosecution concept is a collection of changes in examination practice and culture.  They encourage examiners to find the core issues in a patent application and resolve those issues early in prosecution.  The result is reflected in the September data postings which show a decrease in actions per disposal.

 Overall in FY 2010, the allowance rate increased to 45.6%, compared to an allowance rate of 41.3% in FY 2009.  In addition, actions per disposal decreased to 2.42 from 2.73 in FY 2009.  Furthermore, as a result of a concerted campaign to begin turning the tide on our backlog, the patent application backlog dropped from 718,835 at the end of FY 2009, to 708,535 at the end of FY 2010.  Pretty remarkable considering that application filings were up about 4%, that our examiner workforce shrunk and we were unable to authorize overtime for most of the year due to funding challenges, and that we affirmatively gave our examiners *more* time to examine each application as a clear signal that quality is our first priority.

 Finally, the September figures show that there has been a further improvement in patent examination quality.  The final rejection and allowance compliance rates (our existing quality measures previous to our announcement just last week of 5 new quality measures we will use starting immediately) increased from 94.4% in FY 2009 to 96.3% in FY 2010, and the non-final in-process compliance rate increased from 93.6% in FY 2009 to 94.9% in FY 2010.

 So, while we still have a lot of work to do, I think we are on the right path.  I’ll look forward to reviewing the monthly updates to the Dashboard, and I hope you will review them also each month to keep up with our progress and challenges at USPTO.

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