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Monday Jul 13, 2015

Update on our Enhanced Patent Quality Initiative

Guest blog by Deputy Commissioner for Patent Quality Valencia Martin Wallace

I am encouraged that we have received more than 1,100 comments and suggestions about our Enhanced Patent Quality Initiative in response to our Federal Register notice, internal Patents Forums, and Patent Quality Summit. We have taken the ideas and suggestions you provided and are making improvements in all aspects of patent quality.

The USPTO is committed to providing the most current and robust training for our patent examiners. In view of the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decisions in Alice Corp., Myriad, and Mayo, we are now offering our examiners additional training on subject matter eligibility and claim clarity issues related to 35 U.S.C. § 101 and § 112. We are also further enhancing our training for patent examiners on search skills and the interviewing process.

In order to streamline our patents organization, we have consolidated the Office of Process Improvement, Office of Patent Quality Assurance, Office of Patent Training, and Office of Patents Ombudsman and Stakeholder Outreach into our newly created Office of Quality Management. I am confident this will also improve oversight and coordination of our quality processes.

We continue to provide helpful resources for the public, and recently launched a monthly “Patent Quality Chat” webinar series. The topic of our first webinar on June 9 was clarity of the record, our next webinar on July 14 will focus on in-person patent examiner interviews, and our August 11 webinar will discuss measuring patent quality. For those of you who were not able to tune into the clarity of the record webinar, you can view the PowerPoint slides and recording on the Patent Quality Chat page of the USPTO website. Be sure to check our online events calendar for more details on upcoming webinars and other events.

To better serve patent applicants, practitioners, and stakeholders, we are offering expanded business hours to contact our Patents Ombudsman in our regional offices. I encourage you to take advantage of this program, which assists applicants or their representatives with issues that arise during patent application prosecution. The ombudsman representatives help improve communication between the applicant and examiner, more quickly address issues that arise during prosecution, and reduce unnecessary delays during the process.

Finally, we will be embarking on a Patent Quality Roadshow this summer to update our stakeholders about our efforts and to hear your thoughts. The roadshow will visit Silicon Valley on August 24, Dallas on August 26, and Alexandria on August 28.

The USPTO is dedicated to issuing the highest quality patents possible. We hear you, we thank you, and we will continue to update you on our progress on our Enhanced Patent Quality Initiative.

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