The Clarity of the Record Pilot, which is one of the evolving programs of the Enhanced Patent Quality Initiative (EPQI), identifies best examiner practices for enhancing the clarity of various aspects of the prosecution record. In particular, the Pilot focuses on best practices regarding enhanced documentation of claim interpretation, more detailed interview summaries, and more precise reasons for allowance. The Pilot studies the impact of implementing such best practices during examination. The Pilot is underway, and is expected to end on August 20, 2016.
Goals of the Pilot
- To identify and help develop best examiner practices for enhancing the clarity of the prosecution record so as to provide applicants with a deeper understanding of the Office’s positions during prosecution.
- To obtain feedback on the correct balance for appropriate recordation of an examiner’s determinations during examination.
- To assist with the development of the Master Review Form.
Pilot Participants and their Duties
The Pilot consists of approximately 130 utility patent examiners, level GS11 through GS15, with at least two years of patent examination experience. Pilot participants are from all utility Technology Centers and are required to follow the Pilot guidelines as shown in the Memorandum of Understanding and Pilot Guidance documents.
Pilot participants are expected to participate in various activities, including:
- Attending Pilot-specific group training and Quality Enhancement Meetings (QEMs)
- At the start of the Pilot, participants attended training on clarifying the record, including the following modules:
- During the QEMs, Pilot participants discuss and develop best practices for enhancing the clarity of the record with respect to claim interpretation, interview summaries, and reasons for allowance. Pilot participants may also receive additional training during QEMs.
- Enhancing the clarity of Office actions for selected cases and
- Recording non-production time spent enhancing clarity.
Statistical data is being gathered from (1) reviews of Pilot and control Office actions using a modified version of the Master Review Form, (2) the number of non-production hours used for enhanced recordation by Pilot examiners, and (3) surveys of examiners participating in the Pilot. In addition, feedback received during QEMs and group-training sessions is being weighed. At the conclusion of the Pilot, recommendations on the possible corps-wide implementation of the Pilot's best practices will be provided based on the evaluation of all of the data.