October 08, 2007

The USPTO announced last Thursday that it plans to review production goals of its examiners in an attempt to improve operations. According to the USPTO press release (link below), this announcement coincides with the report “Hiring Efforts are not Sufficient to Reduce Patent Application Backlog” recently released by the Government Accountability Office.” In that report, the GAO recommends that the USPTO "undertake a comprehensive evaluation of the assumptions that the agency uses to establish its productions goals”, suggestion that the USPTO work with examiners and user communities during its review. The Director of the USPTO, Jon Dudas, acknowledges the GAO’s report and stated that “I am pleased that, after careful study, the GAO agrees with our assessment that hiring alone will not reduce the backlog of patent applications. By far, our most valuable resource is our employees. We believe that our 5-year strategic plan identifies initiatives that effectively protect innovation while promoting a quality workplace that attracts and retains employees. That is why many of our most current initiatives incentivize applicants and the public to provide the best information to patent examiners early in the examination process.” The USPTO has hired over 3,600 new patent examiners in the last three years, and according to Dudas, “[a] next logical step in bringing the USPTO fully into the 21st century is to reevaluate how these initiatives [hiring and automation, for example] impact our goals."

USPTO Announcement: LINK
GAO Report Abstract: LINK
Full GAO Report (PDF): LINK

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Mark Reichel
Reichel IP LLC

I am a patent attorney with Reichel IP LLC, where I concentrate my practice on patent drafting and prosecution, trademarks, and general intellectual property matters. I currently focus on the preparation and prosecution of medical device and other life sciences patent applications, and being actively involved in a number of local not-for-profit organizations.

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