Under Secretary Jon Dudas identified three new United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) initiatives that will speed patent prosecution, and which will save applicants about $30 million annually at a “town-hall meeting” held last Friday in Chicago. Of course, it was a town hall meeting that charged admission but I digress. According to a press release by the USPTO, the initiatives include changing the rules for appeal conferences, eliminating the backlog of ex parte re-examinations and creating a more transparent office.

Dudas said that USPTO customers will save at least $30 million annually due to a new program this year that allows applicants to request an appeal conference and learn the results before having to file an appeal brief. Currently, when applicants appeal rejections to the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences (BPAI), they must file a notice of appeal and an appeal brief. The next step is an appeal conference. Statistics demonstrate that appeal conferences result in approximately 60% of cases being returned to the patent corps. I would like to see customers could save even more money by having more and better trained Examiners in order to avoid the necessity of many of the appeals in the first place.

In regard to ex parte re-examinations, the USPTO will change the way it handles requests to ensure that re-examination remains a viable, cost-effective alternative to litigation. According to Under Secretary Dudas, the new system will allow the agency to the complete processing of 420 cases that have been pending for more than two years. Also, three-examiner panels will be assigned to each re-examination, compared to the past practice of assigning a single examiner to each case – all to ensure that current and future ex parte re-examinations take no longer than two years to process.

Dudas also discussed his concept of a more transparent office, pledging to provide USPTO customers not only with more information, but information and numbers that have greater meaning. He spoke at a “town meeting” sponsored by the American Intellectual Property Law Association (AIPLA), the Federal Trade Commission, and the National Academy of Sciences.

  Print This Post Print This Post  

Comments are closed.