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New Patent Office Director on Objectives

Jim Ruttler, Patent Attorney

Posted Wednesday, September 30, 2009 by Jim Ruttler

The new Director of the U.S. Patent Office, David Kappos, has provided some exciting and interesting initial thoughts on where the Patent Office is heading. Among other things, Kappos indicated that he is working towards reducing the pendency of the first examiner action to around 10 months. This would be an exceptional accomplishment, given that applications presently wait for around 24-36 months prior to the first examiner action. If implemented, it would make it possible to more expediently obtain an enforceable patent or, alternatively, determine whether patent protection was not possible. Kappos has suggested two possible means for achieving this goal: modifying the present examiner reward system to incentivize compact examination and making it possible to request accelerated examination in exchange for abandoning another pending application. The incentives for compact examination would presumably reward examiners for disposing of applications within one or two actions, instead of the present practice of requiring multiple requests for continued examination, which delays issuance and prevents the examiner from considering new applications. The accelerated option would be useful in having applicants voluntarily abandon currently pending applications, thereby cutting into the present backlog. However, it may provide an advantage to larger entities in that small entities and independent inventors sometimes only file one application. The transcript of the Kappos presentation can be found at http://www.uspto.gov/ under news.

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