Strategic Goal 2: Optimize Trademark Quality and Timeliness
The Trademark organization continues to
demonstrate excellence and the qualities that allow the USPTO to make
progress toward its vision to “lead the world in IP protection and
policy.” For the second year in a row, the Trademark organization
has met and exceeded all of its agency performance targets, advancing
all of the objectives outlined in the USPTO’s 2007-2012
Strategic Plan. FY 2007 accomplishments and future priorities
First action pendency — the length of time between receipt of a
trademark application and when the USPTO makes a preliminary decision
— was reduced to the lowest level in six years, ending the year
at 2.9 months, demonstrating results a year ahead of schedule. Average
total pendency also showed significant improvement with registration occurring
within 15.1 months from filing.
Pendency has improved as production has increased
and become more consistent on a monthly basis, due to changes in
performance plans and incentive awards. Increased use of electronic
forms, particularly Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS)
Plus filings, which represent about 30 percent of new application
filings, have improved the efficiency of examination as well as
contributing to an increase in applications approved for publication.
The Trademark organization has made process changes to streamline
the post examination process, and reduce costs and disposal pendency.
Specifically, the Trademark organization has decreased the time
between approval for publication by the examining attorney, publication
in the Official Gazette, and registration
(by eliminating the second level of proofing and improving the post-publication
amendment process). This process change has had a direct and positive
impact on reducing disposal pendency to the lowest level in 14 years.
Learning from Industry
— Sun Microsystems Trademarks Director Tiki Dare moderates
the 6th Annual International Trademark Association (INTA)
Industry Group Training Seminar for USPTO trademark attorneys.
The seminar is jointly sponsored by INTA and the USPTO to
bring trademark attorneys firsthand updates from various industries.
Pendency Performance — The two primary measures
of Trademark organization processing are average first action
pendency (the time from filing to first action) and total
average pendency (the time from filing until disposal).
Searching and examination quality continued to show improvement. Nearly
96 percent of first actions and more than 97 percent of final actions
meet statutory and compliance rates for quality of decision making and
writing, the highest levels ever achieved. Advances have also been made
to enable more complete and accurate filings. Specifically, the Trademark
organization has greater use of online tools and has improved the workflow
process to better manage and track performance, improve training, and
increase the use of electronic filing, which contribute to better quality
of application data and consistency in processing All newly hired examiners
now complete a seven-week training course on substantive and procedural
examination, with an emphasis on the Trademark organization’s examination
curriculum. The Trademark organization's quality results are a reflection
of the cumulative effects of five years of emphasis on the same criteria
for assessing examination quality.
The Trademark telework program, already recognized
as a leader in the Federal Government, received the 2007 Work-Life
Innovative Excellence Award given by the Alliance for Work-Life
Progress. The award showcases forward thinking programs and policies
that look beyond their own cultural, demographic, and organizational
boundaries to demonstrate excellence in enhancing and promoting
work-life effectiveness, while achieving organizational goals.
On June 4, 2007, the USPTO celebrated the 10-year anniversary of
its trademark Work-at-Home program, which started out in 1997 as
a small pilot with just 18 examining attorneys. The Trademark organization
has realized numerous benefits from saving space, to employee retention,
to improved work life balance for employees.
— Under Secretary Jon Dudas; Deputy Commissioner for
Trademark Operations Debbie Cohn; and Commissioner for Trademarks
Lynne Beresford celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Trademark
Work-at-Home program. Ms. Cohn was surprised to receive inscribed
statements from Congressmen Tom Davis, Jim Moran, and Frank
Wolf, praising her work and the success of the telework program
in the Congressional Record.
Quality Performance — The Trademark organization
continues to improve the quality of its products and services
using in-depth reviews of work in progress and enhanced end-process
The Trademark organization continues to improve on its successful telework
program through the continued expansion of telework opportunities and
by exploring the use of remote access and collaboration tools. Eighty-five
percent of eligible examining attorneys now work from home nearly full
time, with 85 percent of all eligible Trademark employees working from
home at least one day per week. Forty-nine percent of all Trademark employees
Providing E-Management and E-Tools
The Trademark organization is in the
final stages of implementing a long term project to replace manual,
paper-based processes with a fully electronic operation. In the
past year, Trademarks implemented an electronic docketing system
known as the First Action System for Trademarks (FAST) for the law
office technical support staff. This was the first implementation
to extend electronic workload management tools, which include the
routing and assignment of new work, and monitoring of cases in process
beyond the examining corps. This system significantly improves the
processing and management of applications as well as providing access
to online production reports to monitor the status of individual
To ensure that the transition results in more productive, efficient,
and cost-effective business processes and practices, the organization
has also undertaken an assessment of its trademark process and the
effect of incremental changes on its work force. The assessment
process includes documenting or mapping the entire workflow to identify
opportunities for further improvement, examining how best to organize
and use staff, and developing more appropriate performance standards.
As part of this assessment process, the Trademark organization
implemented several changes including realigning the law office
support staff in order to create a greater focus on managing workload
and quality throughout the examination process. The realignment
recognizes the significant changes made over the past several years
on how work is processed. It places a greater emphasis on monitoring
and evaluating performance, incorporating quality controls, establishing
consistent practices, and providing training. Changes have also
been made in performance plans, production measures, and workflows,
which now mostly rely on electronic processing and file records
to support core examination activities.
Documentation from the process mapping will be used to complete
the design requirements and complete implementation of the electronic
workflow and file management system.
E-Filing and E-Management of Applications — The percent
of trademark applications filed electronically has steadily
increased over the past four years to the current level of 95.4
percent. Electronic management of trademark applications
continued at 99.9 percent in FY 2007.
The Trademark organization reached a major milestone on November 29,
2006 – more than one million trademark applications have been filed
since TEAS was first piloted nine years ago. The USPTO hosted a celebration
in January honoring Donald Junck, a South Dakota entrepreneur who filed
the one-millionth Web-based trademark application using TEAS. Other filers
were also honored.
The Trademark organization released additional enhancements for TEAS
forms in March to expand the acceptance of Portable Document Format (PDF)
attachments to the initial application form. Changes were made to align
forms with examiner guidance, ensure consistent ordering of identifications,
and automatically update some fields in the post registration forms.
— Donald Junck, of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, receives
a plaque from USPTO Director Jon Dudas and Commissioner Lynne
Beresford recognizing that Mr. Junck was the one-millionth
electronic trademark filer. The Trademark e-filing system
became available worldwide in 1998. More than 95 percent of
all new U.S. trademark applications are now filed electronically.
Efficiency –This following metric measures
the relative cost-effectiveness of the entire trademark examination
process over time, or the efficiency with which the organization
applies its resources to production.