Notice of Roundtables and Request for Comments on Enhancement in the Quality of Patents and on United States Patent and Trademark Office Patent Quality Metrics
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), in conjunction with the Patent Public Advisory Committee (PPAC), has undertaken a project related to enhancing overall patent quality. As part of this initiative, the USPTO is conducting two roundtables to obtain public input from organizations and individuals on actions that can improve patent quality and the metrics the USPTO should use to measure progress. The roundtables are open to the public. The USPTO plans to invite a number of roundtable participants from among patent user groups, practitioners, industry, independent inventor organizations, academia, and government. Any member of the public may submit written comments on USPTO patent quality enhancement and metrics as well as on any issue raised at the roundtable.
Patent Term Extension
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), as part of its continuing effort to reduce paperwork and respondent burden, invites the general public and other Federal agencies to take this opportunity to comment on the continuing information collection, as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, Public Law 104-13 (44 U.S.C. 3506(c)(2)(A)).
Cancellation of Rule of Practice 41.200(b) Before the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences in Interference Proceedings
The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued a decision in Agilent Technologies, Inc. v. Affymetrix, Inc., 567 F.3d 1366 (Fed. Cir. 2009). That decision impacted the continuing viability of portions of a patent interference rule. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO or Office) is therefore cancelling the affected portion of the interference rule.
Patents Ombudsman Pilot Program
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) published a notice in the Federal Register seeking public comments on a proposed procedure for a Patents Ombudsman Pilot Program. The majority of the written comments from the patent community were positive and supported the implementation of such a program. After considering the written comments, the USPTO has decided to implement the Patents Ombudsman Pilot Program as set forth in this notice for a period of one year. The Patents Ombudsman Pilot Program is intended to provide patent applicants, attorneys and agents with assistance with application- processing issues regarding concerns with advancement of prosecution (e.g., stalled applications). The Patents Ombudsman Pilot Program is not intended to circumvent normal communication between pro se applicants or applicants' representatives and examiners or Supervisory Patent Examiners, and it is not intended to supersede the authority of the examiners or Supervisory Patent Examiners. After the one-year period, the USPTO may extend the pilot program with appropriate modifications based on the feedback from the participants, the effectiveness of the pilot program and the availability of resources.
Request for Comments on Proposed Change To Missing Parts Practice
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), in response to a number of requests to reduce the costs due one year after filing a provisional application, is considering a change that would effectively provide a 12-month extension to the 12-month provisional application period (creating a net 24-month period). This change would be implemented through the missing parts practice in nonprovisional applications. Currently the missing parts practice permits an applicant on payment of a surcharge to pay the up-front filing fees and submit an executed oath or declaration after the filing of a nonprovisional application within a two-month time period set by the USPTO that is extendable on payment of extension of time fees for an additional five months. Under the proposal, applicants would be permitted to file a nonprovisional application with at least one claim within the 12-month statutory period after the provisional application was filed, pay the basic filing fee, and submit an executed oath or declaration. In addition, the nonprovisional application would need to be in condition for publication and applicant would not be able to file a nonpublication request. Applicants would be given a 12-month period to decide whether the nonprovisional application should be completed by paying the required surcharge and the search, examination and any excess claim fees due within that 12-month period. The proposal would benefit applicants by permitting additional time to determine if patent protection should be sought at a relatively low cost and by permitting applicants to focus efforts on commercialization during this period. The proposal would benefit the USPTO and the public by adding publications to the body of prior art, and by removing from the USPTO's workload those nonprovisional applications for which the applicants have decided not to pursue examination. Importantly, the extended missing parts period would not affect the 12-month priority period provided by the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property and, thus, any foreign filings would still need to be made within 12 months of the filing date of the provisional application if applicant wishes to rely on the provisional application in the foreign- filed application.