Proposed Patent Examiner Legal Training

   A principal responsibility of the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) is
to properly administer the patent laws. In this respect, it is imperative
that PTO issue valid patents in a timely manner. To achieve this goal, PTO
must recruit, train and retain a high caliber diverse workforce. By so
doing, PTO helps ensure a high quality examination.
   The PTO currently provides about 200 hours of training to its new
patent examiners on examination practice and procedures in its Patent
Academy. In addition, the Patent Academy offers a wide range of additional
training programs in technology, automation and patent law. However, much
of this training is provided by in house staff using training materials
developed internally. Moreover, examiners receive extensive on the job
training on examination practices and procedures by their immediate
supervisor in their respective patent examining groups. Additionally, a
small number of patent examiners participate in the Law School Training
Assistance Program (LSTAP) where examiners admitted into evening law
school programs pursue Juris Doctor or other law degress, and have their
tuition and books for job related courses paid for by the PTO.
   The PTO has held numerous customer focus sessions throughout the United
States. A consistent message which PTO's customers have been sending is
that PTO needs to raise the level of legal competency of the Patent
Examining Corps.
   In an effort to provide examiners with more law school type legal
training and to improve their legal competency, the PTO is considering
establishing a Juris Masters (JM) Program for patent professionals. This
JM Program would be offered to all non-lawyer examiners and non-law school
students and would consist of courses in patent practice and procedures
taught using law school style techniques during their first few years in
the PTO. Courses conducted during Office hours would replace existing
Patent Academy curricula and would focus principally on patent law
practice and procedure. Additionally, other traditional law school courses
would be part of an after hours curriculum. All of the courses would be
taught on-site in the PTO Academy by professors from law schools, who
would be providing these courses on a contract basis. The number of
courses and credit hours offered would be about half the number required
to receive a Juris Doctor degree. PTO would award a legal training
proficiency certificate to examiners who successfully complete the JM
   Prior to PTO's preparing a statement of work for a request for
proposals for law schools to respond to such a program, PTO requests
comments from our customers and other members of the patent legal academic
community on the JM Program. Those interested in presenting written
comments on this subject may mail their comments to the Commissioner of
Patents and Trademarks, Washington D.C. 20231, marked to the attention of
Manuel A. Antonakas, Office of the Deputy Assitant Commissioner for Patent
Policy and Projects, or send them by facsimile transmission to (703)

   Written comments should include the following information:

   -Name and affiliation of the individual responding;

   -An indication of whether comments offered represent
   views of the respondent's organization or are the respon-
   dent's personal views; and

   -If applicable, information on the respondent's organiza-
   tion, including the type of organization (e.g., business,
   trade group, university, non-profit organization).

March 20, 1995                                              LAWRENCE J. GOFFNEY
                                                         Assistant Commissioner
                                                                    for Patents