Introduction to the USPTO Slide Set (HTML text version)

Andrew Faile,
Technology Center 2600

Introduction to the USPTO

  • Alexandria Campus
  • USPTO Organizational Chart
  • Application Flow
    • Office of Initial Patent Examination (OIPE) to Office of Patent Publication (PUBS)
  • Electronic filing with EFS Web
  • Search and Examination
  • Role of the Supervisory Patent Examiner (SPE)
  • Examiner's Performance Appraisal Plan (PAP) and Rating

"A country without a patent office is just a crab, and couldn't travel any way but sideways or backways" - Mark Twain

  • The campus in Alexandria, VA
  • Five main buildings
    • Madison
    • Jefferson
    • Remsen
    • Knox
    • Randolph
  • South Tower - Crystal City
    • OIPE
    • PUBS
    • PCT

USPTO Organizational Structure

Commissioner for Patents

Commissioner for Patents - John Doll
  • Deputy Commissioner for Patent Examination Policy - John Love
    • International Liaison Staff
    • Manual of Patent Examining Procedures Staff
    • Office of Patent Legal Administration
    • Office of PCT Legal Administration
    • Inventor Assistance Center
    • PCT Legal Affairs
    • PCT Special Programs
    • Office of Petitions
  • Deputy Commissioner for Patent Operations - Margaret Focarino
    • Patent Examining Groups (Technology Centers)
    • Design Patents
    • Plant Patents
    • Office of Patent Publication
  • Deputy Commissioner for Patent Resources and Planning - Vacant
    • Office of Patent Planning and Capacity Analysis
    • Office of Patent Resource Administration
    • Office of Search and Information Resources Administration
    • Office of Patent Automation
    • Office of Patent Classification
    • Scientific and Technical Information Center

Application Flow

  • Application flow from OIPE through PUBS
  • Paper world versus electronic world

Paper File Wrapper and Image File Wrapper

Process: Newly Filed Application From OIPE to the Technology Centers

 Newly Filed Application From OIPE to the Technology Centers

Process: Follow-On Paper From OIPE to the Technology Centers

 Follow-On Paper From OIPE to the Technology Centers

Process: Examination


Process: Post Examination

 Post Examination

Electronic Filing

  • EFS Web Overview

EFS-Web Benefits

  • Improved Quality and Timeliness
    • Speeds filing process by eliminating paper and delays caused by manual handling
    • Provides immediate Acknowledgement Receipt for Customers and dramatically improves ability of practitioners to track status of applications through PAIR
  • Automatic integration with USPTO internal systems
  • Ability to file anytime and anywhere with an Internet connection
  • Facilitates collaboration and workflow management
  • Safe, simple, and secure

EFS-Web Functionality

  • Online submission of:
    • PDF files of patent applications and documents
    • ASCII text files
  • Verifies and validates PDF files and data before submission
  • Online payment of patent application and document filling fees
  • Allows application to be saved and submitted later
  • Provides a valid acknowledgement receipt that is equivalent to the postcard receipt

What Can Be Filed?

  • New Applications
    • New Utility; Provisional; Design with Color Drawings; 371 National Stage
    • International applications for filing in the U.S. Receiving Office
  • Existing Applications
    • Follow-on papers
    • Pre-Grant Publication Requests under 37 CFR 1.211-1.221
    • Petition to Accept Unintentionally Delayed Payment of Maintenance Fees in an Expired Patent (37 CFR 1.378 (c))
    • Request for Continued Examination (RCE)
  • Document Description List
    • Nearly 200 document descriptions - Amendments, Petitions, Application Data Sheet, Information Disclosure Statement, PCT, Non-Patent Literature, Foreign References Cited, PG-Pubs, Board of Appeals documents, etc
  • Numerous Fees
    • Almost the complete Patent Fee Schedule

What Cannot be Filed Using EFS-Web?

  • Credit Card Authorization Form - PTO-2038
  • Assignments
  • Maintenance Fees
  • Certified Copies (Ribbon Copies)
  • Secrecy Order Applications and/or Documents
  • New Plant Applications or Color Plant Drawings
  • Documents related to Registration Practice and Disciplinary Proceedings
  • Reexamination and Reissue (this includes new and follow-on papers)
  • Contested Cases at the Board of Appeal and Interferences
  • Protests under 37 CFR 1.291
  • Third party papers under 37 CFR 1.99
  • Public use hearing papers under 37 CFR 1.292

EFS-Web Enhancements

  • EFS-Web 1.1 released October 14, 2006
    • Text files
      • Sequence listings
      • Mega tables
      • Computer listings
    • "Auto-Grant" Petition to Accept Unintentionally Delayed Payment of Maintenance Fee in an Expired Patent (37 CFR 1.378(c))
    • International application for filing in the US receiving office (PCT)

Future EFS-Web Enhancements

  • Requested enhancements:
    • Integration with document management systems
    • Integration with assignments
    • Fillable issue fee forms
    • Fillable petition forms
    • Automated provisional cover sheets
    • Dual payment options (e.g., pay with credit card and allow for charges to deposit account on one screen)
    • Additional copies of patents
    • Dual Customer Number
    • Admin PKI

How EFS-Web Works

How EFS-Web Works

Search and Examination Process

  • Classification Search
  • Text Search
  • Sequence Search
  • Examiner's Search Tools
    • EAST
    • WEST
    • NPL
    • Foreign patents

Search and Examination Process

  • New Case Docket
  • Amended Case docket
  • Specials
  • Timeframes - PAP driven

Supervisory Patent Examiners

  • SPEs:
    • Manage an "art unit" of typically 13 -20 examiners
    • Skill level from junior to senior examiners
    • Responsible for the quality, productivity and timeliness of the examiners' work
    • Manage personnel issues - conduct and performance
    • Work on special projects for the Technology Center and/or Corps

SPE Management Awards

  • SPE Award Components
    • PAP rating
    • Quality (reopening rate)
    • 4-month amended cases and BPAI decisions
    • Leadership activities and initiatives
    • Productivity
    • Movement of New Applications (New Date Case Goals)

Examiner PAP and Rating

  • Examiner's Performance Appraisal Plan (PAP)
    • Quality (dependent on grade level)
      • Patent Examining Functions
      • Action Taking
      • Patentability Determination
    • Productivity
    • Timeliness
      • Two month amendments
      • After final amendments
      • Specials
    • Customer Service

Examiner PAP and Rating

  • Examiners range from GS-5 to GS-14 (or GS-15)
  • As examiners are promoted through the structure:
    • Productivity increases
    • Independently responsible for more quality elements
    • Less oversight by the SPE/primary examiner
  • Full and Partial Signatory Authority
  • New examiner probationary addendum
  • Federal Career Intern Program (FCIP)
  • SPEs rate their examiners at the end of each FY
    • Outstanding
    • Commendable
    • Fully Successful
    • Marginal
    • Unacceptable
  • Measures for each element in the examiner PAP

Quality Assurance

  • Office of Patent Quality Assurance (OPQA) role
  • Reopening rate
    • Corps target is 4%
  • In-process Review Rate (IPR)
    • By Technology Center

What Do We Measure?

  • Production - Overall output (number of applications processed)
  • Productivity - The measure of an examiner's production during a given period of time
    • Varies by technology - complex areas get more time
  • Quality - Compliance with statutes, regulations & practice
    • Reviewed throughout the process
  • Timeliness
    • How long before an application is examined?
    • How long before an application completes all processing?

Why Do We Measure?

  • USPTO is a performance-based organization
  • Standards are precise
  • Quality is critical
  • Production is important
  • Timeliness (turn-around time) is key