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Wednesday May 12, 2010

The New Ombudsman Pilot Program

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

 

By now you’ve no doubt heard about the Agency’s “Ombudsman Program” which was announced in early April. 

One of the Agency’s strategic priorities is to improve relations with our stakeholders. The newly initiated Ombudsman Pilot Program has been established to assist in meeting that priority.

At times, when I am speaking with patent practitioners and applicants, they share their frustrations with the patent process. Examples include cases where the examination process has stalled or where applicants are unsure of the appropriate person to contact for assistance. At other times an applicant or attorney may simply need assistance getting connected with the USPTO employee who can assist them with a particular issue.

To put it another way, applicants have asked for a pressure relief valve, and we have implemented it.

To help with the above, and many other issues that may occur during the patent process, the Agency has implemented the Patents Ombudsman Pilot Program. The Program is running across all of our Technology Centers, using TC ombudsman representatives who are Supervisory Patent Examiners (SPEs) and Quality Assurance Specialists (QASs) prepared to field questions and concerns from the public and work with the appropriate PTO employees (SPEs, Directors, Petitions contacts, etc.) to facilitate responses. The ombudsman representative will help ensure that the applicant's issues are addressed quickly – usually within five business days. The ombudsman representative will also ensure confidentiality when requested by the applicant or applicant's representative. 

I look forward to our new Ombudsman Program strengthening the USPTO’s ability to provide our stakeholders with the most efficient and precise service possible. Please give it a try in cases where a pressure relief valve is needed.  More information about the Ombudsman Program can be found on our Web site. I look forward to your feedback on the Program.

Comments:

I am impressed with the many changes that are taking place at the PTO, including this new Ombudsman program. I suspect it will be useful when needed, but if it proves to be of little use, you can always end it or improve upon it. I appreciated meeting with Director Barner and Commissioner Stoll in San Francisco last Friday. They are doing a very good job of "listening to the stakeholders" and communicating all of the improvements at the PTO including this new program.

Posted by Brad Heisler on May 17, 2010 at 08:13 PM EDT #

I can already provide an anecdotal positive report of this program. I asked an ombudsman to help me get an Examiner to grant an interview, and he was successful in doing so. We will see how the program works out over time, but so far I am encouraged.

Posted by Jennifer Bales on May 21, 2010 at 12:55 PM EDT #

Could you add an RSS feed to the Wall page of the Facebook listing? At PIUG (Patent Information Users Group) we are trying to help our members stay current by providing RSS feeds. The Facebook RSS/Blog page has such a feed, along with a button to simplify installing the feed. Could someone kindly install a similar feed on the Wall page. Thanks, David Gange

Posted by David Gange on May 26, 2010 at 10:20 AM EDT #

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