Tuesday, June 28, 2005

USPTO RESPONDS TO CRITICISM ON PATENT AUTOMATION PROBLEMS: Jon Dudas, director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, told congressional auditors that he does not plan to further reassess the agency's patent automation plans, despite a critical audit and recommendations that USPTO fix what the auditors called ad hoc management practices.

A Government Accountability Office audit released June 17 states that USPTO officials violated many of the Clinger-Cohen Act's information technology management principles in an effort to develop an automated patent system. According to the audit report, the system is so problematic that the public is hesitant to use it.

Dudas disputed that conclusion. In his written response to GAO, he defended the agency's Web-based patent filing and document imaging systems as offering vastly improved capabilities compared with previous paper-based procedures for filing and processing patents.

GAO auditors say they are concerned that USPTO will be unable to handle the workload of patent applications, which has increased more than 90 percent in the past 10 years, if the agency does not institute more rigorous management controls. The auditors also faulted USPTO officials for not having a functioning architecture review board.

USPTO officials told GAO auditors that they recognize sufficient problems in the Image File Wrapper document imaging system that they plan to begin replacing it in September at a cost of about $56 million during the next six years.

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