Tuesday the USPTO announced that the agency is looking to assign an ombudsman (plus one backup) to each technology center in an effort to assist applicants in "handling application-processing problems if the normal channels have not been successful." This one-year pilot program is intended to provide applicants with additional resources to ensure application-processing problems are handled in a more efficient way, thereby saving applicants and the Agency both time and resources and improving patent quality.
According to the Office, the objectives for the Patents Ombudsman Pilot Program are:
- To facilitate complaint-handling for pro se applicants and applicant’s representatives whose applications have stalled in the examination process;
- to track complaints to ensure each is handled within ten business days;
- to provide feedback and early warning alerts to USPTO management regarding training needs based on complaint trends; and
- to build a database of frequently asked questions accessible to the public that tracks commonly seen problems and effective resolutions.
The entire Patent Examining Corps and other Patents operation units (e.g., Office of Patent Application Processing) will be included in the program.
In order to participate in the Patents Ombudsman Pilot Program, pro se applicants or applicants’ representatives must fill an electronic form on the USPTO Web site to provide their name and phone number and select the ombudsman for the patent organization (e.g., TC 2400) in which they are seeking assistance. After receiving confirmation, The participant should expect a telephone call from the ombudsman within one business day to proceed with the inquiry.
The Patents Ombudsman Pilot Program is scheduled to run for one year from its effective date. Therefore, any request under the Patents Ombudsman Pilot Program must be submitted before April 6, 2011.
Read the USPTO press release here (link)
Read the Federal Register Notice here (link)
View earlier public comments on the Ombudsman program here (link)