Director's Forum: A Blog from USPTO's Leadership
Wednesday Jan 13, 2010

Director's Response: SPE PAP – Award Task Force

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

My thanks to everyone for their thoughtful comments on my recent SPE – PAP/Award Task Force Blog. The responses touched a number of important themes that I would like to address. First, I want to point out that the SPE PAP – Award Task Force is part of a larger, overarching effort to revamp the performance plans of all managers including Technology Center Directors, Deputy Commissioners, and Commissioners. Their performance plans will be revised to reflect a leadership culture of increased employee development responsibility, cooperation, collaboration, transparency and responsiveness that we are working to establish at the USPTO.

I agree with the perspective of a number of posts that training for supervisors – both new managers as well as experienced managers – is a critical investment for the USPTO.  It is true that many individuals join the ranks of management with little or no direct management experience and on –the- job training is essential. It is also true that formal management training can provide needed insights and perspectives that would otherwise take years to acquire. This is one reason we are moving ahead with a Leadership Development Program that will strengthen the management skill set we develop in all our managers.

The importance of employee retention was also noted.  I couldn’t agree more. Our employees are by far the most important asset of our Agency -- they literally make the USPTO work. We invest a large amount of time and effort in the training of our examiners to provide them the knowledge and skills needed for a successful career. We want our solid performers to stay, contribute, and add value at the USPTO. So it is important to me that all managers work with employees to assist them in developing their careers to the greatest extent possible. We have added the critical element of Coaching/Mentoring to the SPE PAP to reflect the important role supervisors play in our employees' career development. The SPE who is adept at the roles of coach and mentor can make all the difference in an examiner’s choice to make the USPTO a full-career employer.

There were several suggestions that some component of SPE performance include examiners' input. Others mentioned peer input as a useful information source for SPE development. I think both of these suggestions have merit. I will ask the SPE Task Force to explore these concepts and develop assessment tools that offer examiners and peers the opportunity for constructive feedback.
The SPE PAP - Award Task Force is reviewing feedback from external stakeholders, POPA, and my Blog. If you have any other suggestions, please submit them soon; the FY 2010 SPE PAP will be finalized in early February.
Thank you.


Well, I would like to say that uspto is not utilising technology effectively in evaluating patents and continuing to rely solely on the expertise of its examiners to the exclusion of innumerable industry experts who would quickly be able to call out the nonsensical patents filed in large numbers. Let me be more specific. If uspto were to publish each pending patent application on a wiki/blog like this one, it would be possible for various industry reviewers to point to specific reasons why/why not a patent should be approved, why/where its obvious, and so on. Its really quite a simple idea, and "peer review" has been shown to be successful elsewhere. If this idea is interesting/and/or further input from me might help, contact me.

Posted by vijay on January 20, 2010 at 04:30 AM EST #

I strongly agree with the above post to the point. Very good comment.

Posted by Wiz on January 26, 2010 at 09:13 AM EST #

I want to thank you for all the work you are doing to reform the USPTO including reforming SPEs, Directors, etc.'s Pap and also noting the contribution of examiners to the USPTO. I really think you are sincere in what you want to do. Just have one question/comment though. Do you intend to hold some of the managers, TC directors, Assistant Deputy Commissioners over TCs who are responsible for holding up applicant's patent applications, and making examiners put extreme rejections in their work from 2001 to 2008 accountable? Many if not most of these managers are still in their positions and have not been moved, the only one that has been moved is Doll. I think the truth is that if these managers are not held accountable, the USPTO will never be able to cut out its waste and live within its budget. Some of the managers are responsible for the high attrition rate among the examiner's corps.

Posted by Susan on February 16, 2010 at 09:08 PM EST #

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