Notice & Comment

USPTO Seeks Public Input on Proposed Patent Quality Changes, by Shannon Allen

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) seeks input from the public to provide guidance regarding enhancing patent quality.  The USPTO is making efforts to improve patent operations and procedures to provide the best work products, to enhancecustomer experience, and to improve existing quality metrics.  Thus, the USPTO is introducing a comprehensive and enhanced quality initiative.  This initiative starts with an invitation for public input on USPTO’s proposals and continues with a two-day “Quality Summit” with the public to discuss the proposals.  Through this interactive and long-term partnership with the public, the USPTO strives to ensure the issuance of the best quality patents and provide the best customer service possible.

A robust patent system cultivates the innovation that drives economic growth and the creation of employment opportunities.  The promotion of that kind of innovation requires that issued patents fully comply with . . . statutory requirements and, . . . that the patent examination process advance quickly, transparently, and accurately.High quality patents promote certainty and clarity of rights, and that sparks necessary innovation.  To this end, the USPTO is launching a new, wide-ranging initiative to enhance the quality of patents issued.  The purpose of the USPTO’s proposals is to stimulate the public’s thinking on the larger topic of patent quality, and to focus the discussion at the Quality Summit to a limited number of concrete proposals.

The USPTO begins this enhanced patent quality initiative, by focusing on three aspects of patent quality, called the patent quality pillars.”  In addition, the USPTO has developed six proposals for enhanced patent quality within these pillars:

  • Pillar One: Excellence in work products, in the form of issued patents and Office actions. Focuses on the quality of work products provided at every stage of the patent process, including both quality of issued patents and quality of all work products during the filing, examination, and issuance process.  USPTO Proposals – 1) Applicant Requests for Prosecution Review of Selected Applications; 2) Automated Pre-Examination Search; and 3) Clarity of the Record 
  • Pillar Two: Excellence in measuring patent quality, including appropriate quality metrics.  Focuses on measurement of quality to evaluate work products and customer interactions. USPTO Proposal – Review of and Improvements to Quality Metrics 
  • Pillar Three: Excellence in customer service. Focuses on quality customer experience, including treating customers promptly, fairly, consistently, and professionally at all stages of the examination process.  USPTO Proposal – 1) Review of Current Compact Prosecution Model and the Effect on Quality and 2) In-Person Interview Capability with All Examiners

The USPTO seeks to improve general aspects of quality, to issue higher quality patents, and invites feedback regarding the following questions.

  1. Are there aspects of enhanced quality other than the three “pillars” previously described that should guide the USPTO’s enhanced quality initiative? 
  2. Are there any new or necessary changes to existing procedures that the USPTO should consider to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the examination process? 
  3. What should be included at the time of application filing in order to enhance patent quality?

The USPTO welcomes additional public input that may lead to the issuance of higher quality patents.  In addition to written comments, interested parties are invited to attend the two-day Quality Summit on March 25 and 26, 2015 in the Madison Building, USPTO Headquarters, in Alexandria, Virginia.  The following information should be included with written comments: (1) the name and affiliation of the individual responding; and (2) an indication of whether comments offered represent views of the respondent’s organization or are the respondent’s personal views.  Written comments must be received on or before May 6, 2015 and may be submitted by one of the following methods:

  • Electronic mail message to: [preferred] 
  • Postal mail addressed to: Mail Stop Comments—Patents, Commissioner for Patents, P.O. Box 1450, Alexandria, Virginia 22313-1450, marked to the attention of Michael Cygan, Senior Legal Advisor, Office of Patent Legal Administration, Office of the Deputy Commissioner for Patent Examination Policy.

This post was originally published on the legacy ABA Section of Administrative Law and Regulatory Practice Notice and Comment blog, which merged with the Yale Journal on Regulation Notice and Comment blog in 2015.

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