Director's Blog: the latest from USPTO leadership

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Thursday Oct 07, 2010

USPTO Guest Blog: Visiting the USPTO, By Commerce Secretary Gary Locke

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

On Wednesday, I met with employees at the USPTO headquarters to personally thank them for their outstanding progress over the past year toward reducing the patent backlog and encourage them to continue their great work as they get within striking distance of bringing the number of pending patent applications down from 750,000 to below 700,000, representing the first significant reduction in the patent backlog in a decade.


Under financial constraints, this agency and the men and women who work here are making a tremendous effort to help bring the patent system and the USPTO into the 21st century.


The work being done at USPTO is central to President Obama’s goal of rebuilding America’s economic foundation.  This agency has kept the United States globally competitive by creating a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship that fosters both small businesses and giant industries and is a key component of job creation and a thriving economy.


I told the group how pleased we were to see that Congress appropriated $129 million in supplemental funding to enable the USPTO to access more of its fee collections for the essential work the agency is doing.


I also was pleased to note that in addition to reducing the patent backlog, the agency has been moving forward on a number of fronts to provide the highest level of service to inventors, innovators and creators. While the patent office tends to draw a lot of attention, there is also great work going on throughout the agency within the trademark team, the external affairs operation and other departments. Among these:


  • A new operational reorganization that took effect on Oct. 1 and contributes to increased efficiency, productivity and transparency;
  • Programs and proposals designed to give applicants more control over how quickly their application is examined, such as the Green Technology program and the Three-Track proposal;
  • Expanding work-sharing efforts with international IP offices to speed patent examination for applications filed in multiple jurisdictions;
  • A proposal to incentivize the development and dissemination of humanitarian technologies;
  • A streamlined review of appeal briefs;
  • Establishing a new trademark quality metric to measure examination excellence; and
  • New communications tools like blogs and Facebook to strengthen USPTO’s relationships with employees, the IP community and other stakeholders.


And I was proud to congratulate USPTO on jumping 50 spots over last year’s rankings in the Partnership for Public Service survey of the “Best Places to Work,” becoming one of the most improved agencies.


Keep up the great work.



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