Thursday, February 28, 2008

Dudas and Others Testify Before Congress

Yesterday, the Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property Oversight held a hearing on the USPTO (link). The witness list included Jon Dudas, who published his remarks on the Committe on the Judiciary website.

An interesting comment appears on the second page of Dudas' testimony:

Our patent examiners completed over 362,000 patent applications in 2007, the largest number ever, while maintaining for the second year in a row an examination compliance rate1 of 96.5 percent, the highest in a quarter of a century. The allowance rate for patents is currently 44%. This is in contrast to allowance rates in excess of 70% just eight years ago.
While it is unclear what the context of this number is, it appears, judging by the comment, that lowering allowance rates is considered a "good thing" by the PTO.

Other areas covered by Dudas include:

Quality Review
Based on input on potential areas for consideration obtained through customer satisfaction survey data and other input from applicants and practitioners, the areas of final rejection practice, Request for Continued Examination (RCE) practice, search quality and restriction practice were identified for review during FY 07.
Accelerated Examination
1,096 petitions for accelerated examination have been filed to date with 344 granted and 271 pending. Of the 344 granted petitions, 114 have been allowed and 73 will have issued as patents by the end of this month. Our 12-month to completed prosecution (final rejection, allowance or abandonment) goal has been met for all applications.
The Peer-to-Patent Project
To date, 57 applications have been volunteered to participate in this pilot from over 15 different corporations and independent inventors. Over 170 pieces of prior art have been submitted to the 45 applications that have published so far in the pilot.
Information Disclosure Statements

The USPTO's proposed rule change is designed to encourage early submission of relevant information, and to discourage submission of information that is unimportant or does not add something new for the examiner to consider. With the proposed changes, patent examiners would not have to review documents that do not directly relate to the claimed invention, or that duplicate other information already submitted.

Under the proposal, applicants would still be able to send in as many documents as they choose. However, there would be more stringent requirements for those choosing to submit large numbers of documents or very long documents.

Central Reexamination Units (CRU's)
Reexamination cases, formerly distributed to the Technology Centers and assigned to examiners according to technology, are now assigned to a Central Reexamination Unit (CRU). The CRU consists of 52 highly skilled primary examiners who have a full understanding of reexamination practice and are generalists in their field of technology and relevant case law, and concentrate solely on reexamination . . . The units are supervised by Supervisory Patent Examiners (SPEs) and each action is conferenced by a panel of three including the lead examiner, one SPE/RQAS/TQAS and one other CRU examiner. The goal of the CRU is to close prosecution on all ex-parte reexaminations within two years of filing.
Pre-First Office Action Interviews
Interviews occurring before the first Office action are believed to provide the opportunity for a more focused examination at the earliest stages of prosecution. Pendency of applications that are part of this initiative will be tracked with the expectation that closure will be reached sooner due to the increased communication and discussion of issues taking place earlier in the process. We strongly encourage applicants to take advantage of this opportunity.
Read the Dudas testimony in its entirety here (link)

See also

- Testimony of Robin N. Nazzaro (GAO) (link)

- Testimony of Robert D. Budens (POPA) (link)

- Testimony of Alan J. Kasper (AIPLA) (link)

View the webcast here (link)

2 Comentários:

Anonymous said...

When the PTO refers to allowance rate they count a final rejection, even though there is a subsequent RCE, as a disallowance. As I recently pointed out to PTO personnel following a presentation in California, if every final rejection results in an RCE and that RCE results in an issued patent the originally filed application should be counted as allowed, which results in an allowance rate of 88%, not 44%. They are using doctored statistics to support their conclusion that Quality of patents improved because more applications are rejected. In reality these statistic show that quality of examination as been significantly reduced.

MJR California

Anonymous said...

Eight years ago, the "allowance rate" was high and there was no disconcerting backlog, with significantly fewer RCEs and continuations being filed than today.

Today, the "allowance rate" is low, so applicants file RCEs and continuations to get their patent anyway, and the backlog is skyrocketing.

So what's causing the backlog, I rhetorically wonder?

[If you accounted for RCEs and continuations in the allowance rate (determined as "issued patents"/"original applications filed"), I suspect it hasn't changed much....]

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