Strategic Plan > Index to Action Papers > Patent Quality Improvement: Expansion of the Second-Pair-of-Eyes Review

Patent Quality Improvement:
Expansion of the Second-Pair-of-Eyes Review


In order to enhance patent quality, the USPTO is implementing an improved Quality Assurance Program.  One important component of the improved program is expanding the quality review of work products, through a "second-pair-of-eyes" program in areas of identified need.

Background Information:

The USPTO recognizes a robust quality assurance program is critical to maintaining the public's desired level of patent product quality.  The public's interest in quality has been repeatedly and strongly voiced.

Options Considered:

Option 1 - In March 2000, the USPTO established the "second pair of eyes" review for business method patents in Class 705.  It is a "universal" review of all allowances in Class 705 with each allowance taking about one hour.  The purpose of this review is for the reviewer to quickly flag issues that need further consideration by the examiner and/or the examiner's supervisor.

In fiscal year 2001, the "second pair of eyes" review in Class 705 resulted in a reduction of the Class 705 reopening percentage by the Office of Patent Quality Review (OPQR) to zero percent.  For FY 2002, only one 705 application was reopened as a result of review by the OPQR.  The results of the "second pair of eyes" reviews are used to develop training in Class 705.

The USPTO will expand universal "second pair of eyes" reviews beyond allowances in Class 705 to such advanced fields of technology as semiconductors, telecommunications, and biotechnology.

Option 2 - The USPTO will expand universal "second pair of eyes" reviews beyond allowances in Class 705 to other art areas with unacceptably high reopening rates.  Also, the effectiveness of "second pair of eyes" reviews at earlier stages of the examination process will be evaluated.  The results of these early stage reviews will be used to check the quality of work products during examination and to determine examiner-training needs.

USPTO Recommended Course of Action:

Adopt Options 1 and 2 with a goal of implementing both in fiscal year 2003.

Each Technology Center (TC) will have "second set of eyes" review during 2003.  While some of these TCs are focusing their reviews on a class or advanced field of technology, others are experimenting with limited "second set of eyes" reviews within a specific art unit or work group.  Results of these programs will be analyzed and compared to determine best business practices.   

Proof of Concept

The concept of "second set of eyes" review has already been proven through its successful use with business method patent applications over the last two years.  During fiscal years 2001 and 2002, the OPQR reopened only one business method application as a result of their reviews.  The use of "second pair of eyes" reviews will be expanded to other selected areas where needed and in fields of emerging technologies which are closely scrutinized by the public.
Implementation Schedule
Work Breakdown StructureTask NameStartFinishProject Lead
7Quality 1/Quality 3/Qualtiy5: P-17 - Expansion of Patent Application Work Product Reviews06/03/0212/01/03A. MacDonald
7.2Develop action plan for incorporating QR into TC (P-17)06/03/0209/29/03 
7.2.1Obtain names of QR examiners and art examined (P-17)06/07/0207/02/02 
7.2.2Notify TC to close all open QR cases (P-17)06/14/0206/14/02 
7.2.3Develop QAS position description (P-17)06/06/0206/06/02 
7.2.4Develop QAS PAP (P-17)06/03/0206/03/02 
7.2.5Develop Administrator position description (P-17)06/03/0209/30/02 
7.2.6Develop Administrator PAP (P-17)06/03/0209/30/02 
7.2.7Select TC Lead QAS (P-17)07/01/0208/02/02 
7.2.8Announce OPQR functions will be integrated into the TCs - notify employees (P-17)07/11/0207/11/02 
7.2.9Notify POPA and NTEU 243 of QR incorporation into TCs (P-17)07/10/0207/10/02 
7.2.11Notify D. Bertsch for planning space and equipment move for QR reviewers (P-17)06/17/0206/17/02 
7.2.13Submit reassignment SF-52s to OHR (P-17)08/30/0208/30/02 
7.2.14Transfer OPQR personnel to QAS positions (P-17)10/01/0210/01/02 
7.2.15Expand OPQR Reviews (P-17)09/03/0309/03/03 
7.2.16Announce new "Review QAS" positions (P-17)09/03/0201/27/03 
7.2.17Panel the "Review QAS" positions (P-17)02/03/0303/04/03 
7.2.18Interview and fill the "Review QAS" positions (P-17)03/07/0305/29/03 
7.2.19Announce additional "Training QAS position (P-17)09/03/0201/27/03 
7.2.20Panel the "Training QAS" positions (P-17)02/03/0303/04/03 
7.2.21Interview and fill "Training QAS" positions (P-17)03/11/0304/03/03 
7.2.22Training for managers, especially new QAS (P-17)04/04/0309/29/03 
7.2.23Transfer current QAS positions to "Training QAS" positions (P-17)10/01/0210/01/02 
7.2.24Transfer current SPREs to new "Special Program QAS" positions (P-17)10/01/0210/01/02 
7.2.25Announce realignment of OPQR to Patents (P-17)07/10/0207/10/02 
7.2.26Identify which positions and who will be reassigned where (P-17)07/08/0207/10/02 
7.3Analyze customer responses on new quality review and integrate feedback into program (P-17)06/03/0207/05/02 
7.4Finalize action plan for pilot program (P-17)06/03/0208/14/02 
7.5Prepare OPQR for transition (P-17)06/17/0209/13/02 
7.6Establish quality metrics (P-17)06/03/0209/30/03 
7.6.1Allowance/IPR review form (P-17)06/03/0201/02/03 
7.6.2X-case review form (P-17)06/03/0201/02/03 
7.6.3Case review appeal process development (P-17)06/03/0201/02/03 
7.6.4Statistical validity analysis of sampling (P-17)06/03/0201/02/03 
7.6.5Establish FY03 quality targets (Reopenings) (P-17)06/03/0201/02/03 
7.6.6Baselining IPR Metrics (P-17)10/01/0209/30/03 
7.7Initiate pilot program by integrating quality review positions into TCs with highest error rates (P-17)03/03/0309/30/03 
7.8Quality evaluations (P-17)01/02/0309/30/03 
7.8.2Second quarter results (P-17)03/28/0303/28/03 
7.8.3Perform workgroup IPRs (P-17)02/03/0309/30/03 
7.8.4Second pair of eyes (P-17)03/05/0308/29/03 
7.9Review results (P-17)10/01/0310/31/03 
7.10Evaluate results and incorporate lessons learned (P-17)11/04/0312/01/03 
7.11Define PALM requirements (P-17)06/03/0208/27/02 
7.12Baseline PALM project (P-17)06/03/0206/28/02 
7.13Enhance PALM (P-17)03/06/0308/20/03 
7.14Complete implementation of PALM automation requirements for application work product reviews (P-17)08/22/0308/22/03 
KEY: e Biz=online business system fees=fees forms=formshelp=help laws and regs=laws/regulations definition=definition (glossary)

Is there a question about what the USPTO can or cannot do that you cannot find an answer for? Send questions about USPTO programs and services to the USPTO Contact Center (UCC). You can suggest USPTO webpages or material you would like featured on this section by E-mail to the While we cannot promise to accommodate all requests, your suggestions will be considered and may lead to other improvements on the website.