Tuesday, February 21, 2006

MIXED SIGNALS FROM THE USPTO? During February's Town Hall Meeting in Chicago, the USPTO was putting forth arguments in support of the continuation restriction proposal. One of the main reasons for restricting continuations was that the purported excess of continuation applications was overwhelming patent examiners, thus slowing production.

Most practitioners rightfully questioned the extent to which continuation applications delay overall examination. The USPTO has been touting the hiring of 1,000 examiners over the coming year as evidence that the USPTO is tackling the pendency problem. Also, the encouragement of electronic filing and other initiatives are being promoted additional tools for reducing the amount of time applications wallow in the Office.

So it was somewhat surprising that, during the Town Hall Meeting, the USPTO claimed that the hiring of additional examiners would not solve production problems, and that restricting continuations was necessary as a result. In fact, the USPTO made a pretty strong point of this, as shown by one of the Power-Point slides provided at the meeting:

But it appears that this sentiment was not communicated to the press in a recent article published in the Milwaukee Business Journal. According to the article:
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office plans to double its examiners' staff over the next five years to speed the application process, the office's director said Friday.

Jon Dudas, undersecretary of Commerce for intellectual property, says hiring 1,000 additional examiners annually over the next five years will reduce the backlog of patent applications.

2 Comentários:

Anonymous said...

I agree that the PTO is sending mixed signals. The proposed continuation rules read like their purpose is to help the PTO relieve the backlog. But I was at the town hall meeting in Chicago, and I got the impression that the PTO officials were acknowledging that the rules restricting continuations really wouldn’t help relieve the backlog much. Rather, it seemed apparent that the real reason for restricting continuations was to restrict applicants’ ability to use a continuation application to address competitors’ efforts to design around. They apparently believe that practice is inappropriate. In other words, at least for the continuation rules, they seem to be using the backlog as merely a smokescreen for a substantive change in law/policy.

Anonymous said...

The PTO is not hiring new examiners like a house on fire. Instead, they are just blowing smoke up everyone's shorts. This is from personal experience. I put forth an incredible effort to get a job there over about two years time. At the end of my effort, I even paid for airfare to interview there. I can tell you without pride that I am fully qualified for the position. The impression I got is that the PTO really did not want to hire anyone. That it was a pain-in-the-ass to hire new people, and everyone there was content with doing their job, collecting their pay, and getting to the links for a 4:00 tee time.

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