Monday, November 2, 2009

Examiners' Union Approves Changes to Patent Examination

One of the first actions taken by USPTO Director David Kappos was to propose reforms to the system used to allocate time for the examination of patents and grade a patent examiner's productivity. The count system probably has a greater impact on how patent examiners do their work than even the patent laws and regulations. In a nutshell, the proposed reforms give more credit for the first action taken on a patent application and give less credit for examining patents after the filing of a request for continued examination. The new system also gives more time for examination, including an emphasis on early communication between examiners and applicants. The Washington Post recently reported that the examiner's union (POPA) recently voted to approve the changes to the count system. This is encouraging progress in breaking with the previous PTO's leadership stance equating higher quality with higher rejection rates and changing the patent office culture from fear of allowing patents to encouraging quick identification and allowance of patentable claims.

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