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USPTO Launches Enhanced Patent Quality Initiative
Blog by Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director of the USPTO Michelle K. Lee
As improving patent quality lies at the core of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s mission, I’m pleased to announce the launch of a comprehensive new program, our Enhanced Patent Quality Initiative. You can read about it in more detail in the Federal Register and on our website, but let me highlight a few key details for you now.
As you may know, we’ve already been hard at work at the USPTO on numerous initiatives focused on improving patent quality. We’ve offered robust technical and legal training for patent examiners while rolling out new programs such as the Glossary Pilot, Quick Path IDS Program, First Action Interview Pilot, and After Final Consideration Pilot. We’ve worked to improve operational capabilities and information technology tools while expanding international work sharing efforts.
Our Enhanced Patent Quality Initiative allows us to further improve patent quality through direct and ongoing engagement. What do I mean by engagement? I mean robust discussions with the broader public, from a longtime patent owner to a Main Street retailer who has only recently begun to focus on these issues; from patent prosecutors to patent litigators and from patent applicants to patent licensees. We’re also having productive conversations within the agency—from examiners and IT staff to policy experts. By engaging all of these stakeholders, we are working to ensure the USPTO issues the best quality patents possible.
If you want to be a part of that process, we’d love to have you at our first-ever Quality Summit, an intense, two-day deep dive into patent quality that will include discussions among USPTO leadership, experts from the agency, industry and academia, and you. The Summit will be on March 25th and 26th at USPTO headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia. We’ll be looking at possible new initiatives the USPTO could undertake, all of which fall under our three identified Enhanced Patent Quality pillars: (1) excellence in our work products; (2) excellence in measuring patent quality; and (3) excellence in our customer service.
You’ll find our agenda for the Quality Summit in our Federal Register notice. But even if you can’t attend our Quality Summit in person, you can participate via webinar and the Summit will be recorded for later viewing. Also, the Federal Register notice lets you know how you can directly provide us your written comments, including reaction to the overall effort, thoughts on the initiatives under discussion at the Quality Summit, and any other suggestions for agency initiatives or undertakings. The formal comment period will remain open until May 6, but please understand that this in an ongoing dialogue. There will be many more opportunities for us to hear from you.
One person at the USPTO who will be particularly eager to read your comments and hear your thoughts at our Quality Summit is Valencia Martin-Wallace, the USPTO’s first Deputy Commissioner for Patent Quality. This newly created leadership position ensures a dedicated focus on the agency’s patent quality efforts. Deputy Commissioner Martin-Wallace brings a wealth of experience to this position. She’s worked at the USPTO for twenty-two years, serving as an examiner, Technical Center Director, and Assistant Deputy Commissioner for Patent Operations.
Our Enhanced Patent Quality Initiative is ambitious. But it is essential as the USPTO continues to support ambitious innovations and economic growth. We look forward to further engagement with the public and our employees as we continue to build a world-class patent quality system together.