Request for Submission of Topics for USPTO Quality Case Studies
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is initiating a new pilot program as part of its Enhanced Patent Quality Initiative. Currently, the USPTO performs reviews of applications on target issues for internal quality purposes, referred to as ``case studies.'' The USPTO now seeks to leverage the experience of its stakeholders to expand the use of case studies to additional quality- related topics. Beginning immediately, stakeholders are invited to submit patent quality-related topics that they believe should be the subject of a case study. After considering the submitted topics, the USPTO will identify which topics will be the subject of upcoming case studies. The USPTO anticipates that the results of these case studies will help it to understand better the quality of its work products and, where appropriate, to take action to remediate quality issues or to formulate best practices to further enhance quality. Such public engagement is sought not only to broaden the scope of quality issues currently studied by the USPTO, but also to continue stakeholder involvement in the quality review process and to maintain a transparent quality enhancement process.
USPTO Law School Clinic Certification Program
This rulemaking is required by a Public Law enacted on December 16, 2014. This law requires the United States Patent and Trademark Office (``Office'' or ``USPTO'') Director to establish regulations and procedures for application to and participation in the USPTO Law School Clinic Certification Program. This law removed the ``pilot'' status of the USPTO's existing law school clinic certification program. The program allows students enrolled in a participating law school's clinic to practice patent and trademark law before the USPTO under the direct supervision of a faculty clinic supervisor by drafting, filing, and prosecuting patent or trademark applications, or both, on a pro bono basis for clients who qualify for assistance from the law school's clinic. In this way, these student practitioners gain valuable experience drafting, filing, and prosecuting patent and trademark applications that would otherwise be unavailable to students while in law school. The program also facilitates the provision of pro bono services to trademark and patent applicants who lack the financial resources to pay for legal representation. The proposed rules incorporate the requirements and procedures developed and implemented during the pilot phase of the program.
Proposed Amendments to the Rules of Practice for Trials Before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board; Reopening of Period for Comments
The Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (AIA) provided for new administrative trial proceedings before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (Board). The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) issued a number of final rules and a trial practice guide in August and September of 2012 to implement the new administrative trial provisions of the AIA. The USPTO published a request for comments in the Federal Register on June 27, 2014, seeking public comment on all aspects of the new administrative trial proceedings, including the administrative trial proceeding rules and trial practice guide. In response to comments received by the public, the USPTO issued a first, final rule, which was published on May 19, 2015. That final rule addressed issues concerning the patent owner's motion to amend and the petitioner's reply brief that involved ministerial changes. The USPTO issued a second, proposed rule that addresses more involved proposed changes to the rules concerning the claim construction standard for AIA trials, new testimonial evidence submitted with a patent owner's preliminary response, Rule 11-type certification, and word count for major briefing. The USPTO is now extending the period for public comment on the second, proposed rule until November 18, 2015.
Changes To Facilitate Applicant's Authorization of Access to Unpublished U.S. Patent Applications by Foreign Intellectual Property Offices
The electronic sharing of information and documents between intellectual property (IP) offices is critical for increasing the efficiency and quality of patent examination worldwide. Current examples of this sharing include the priority document exchange (PDX) program and the program by which U.S. search results are delivered to the European Patent Office (EPO). In support of electronic file sharing, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (Office) is revising its rules of practice to include a specific provision by which an applicant can authorize the Office to give a foreign IP office that is a party to an agreement with the Office access to all or part of the file contents of an unpublished U.S. patent application in order to satisfy a requirement for information imposed on a counterpart application filed with the foreign IP office. Previously, for unpublished U.S. patent applications, applicants followed one regulatory provision to provide the Office with authorization for a foreign IP office to access an application-as-filed and followed another regulatory provision to provide the Office with authorization to share the file contents with a foreign IP office. The final rule changes consolidate the specific provisions of the regulations by which applicants give the Office authority to provide a foreign IP office with access to an application in order to satisfy a requirement for information of the foreign IP office. The Office is also revising the rules of practice to indicate there is no fee for providing a foreign IP office with an electronic copy of an application-as-filed or an electronic copy of file contents pursuant to a bilateral or multilateral agreement. Additionally, along with changes to the application data sheet (ADS) form, the final rule changes simplify the process for how applicants provide the Office with the required authorization, thereby reducing the resources applicants must expend to comply with these foreign IP office requirements, and enhance the quality of patent examination.
2015 Application Period for the Patents for Humanity Program
Patents for Humanity is an annual program through which the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) recognizes patent holders who use their technology for humanitarian purposes. This year, the USPTO will accept applications for recognition under the program from July 1, 2015, to December 4, 2015. All other program terms remain the same as the terms of the 2014 program.
Patent and Trademark Public Advisory Committees
On November 29, 1999, the President signed into law the Patent and Trademark Office Efficiency Act (the ``Act''), Public Law 106-113, which, among other things, established two Public Advisory Committees to review the policies, goals, performance, budget and user fees of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) with respect to patents, in the case of the Patent Public Advisory Committee, and with respect to trademarks, in the case of the Trademark Public Advisory Committee, and to advise the Director on these matters (now codified at 35 U.S.C. 5). The America Invents Act Technical Corrections Act made several amendments to the 1999 Act, including the requirement that the terms of the USPTO Public Advisory Committee members be realigned by 2014, so that December 1 be used as the start and end date, with terms staggered so that each year three existing terms expire and three new terms begin on December 1. Through this Notice, the USPTO is requesting nominations for up to three (3) members of the Patent Public Advisory Committee, and for up to three (3) members of the Trademark Public Advisory Committee, for terms of three years that begin on December 1, 2015.
Change to Internet Usage Policy To Permit Oral Authorization for Video Conferencing Tools by Patent Examiners
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) established an Internet usage policy in 1999, and this Internet usage policy permits patent examiners to communicate via the Internet only with individuals who have a written authorization in the application. This Internet usage policy also applies to USPTO video conferencing tools such as WebEx for use by patent examiners. The USPTO is updating its Internet usage policy by modifying the authorization requirements to now permit oral authorization for video conferencing tools, such as WebEx, to be provided by the patent applicant/practitioner to patent examiners before an interview is conducted.
Public Meeting on Facilitating the Development of the Online Licensing Environment for Copyrighted Works
Public Key Infrastructure Certificate Action Form
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)).