Help the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)

Recently our President & CEO, Jim Greenwood sent a letter to President Obama, congratulating him on his historic election, and providing him with a few suggestions as to how to improve things at the USPTO.

For those of you who aren’t super-familiar with the USPTO, let me just say that they have been charged with the processing of patent applications and granting patents.
Patents, as our sixteenth president, Abraham Lincoln very eloquently said, “add the fuel of interest to the fire of genius, in the discovery and production of new and useful things”. Consequently, the USPTO has made important contributions to our nation’s technological and economic progress by granting patents that serve as an incentive for innovation.

Unfortunately however, today the USPTO is an agency in crisis. There are more than 1.2 million patent applications pending before approximately 6,000 examiners. Despite a dramatic increase in staffing, the USPTO has been unable to keep up with the increasing number of new applications. This in turn has created concern by some about the quality and timliness of the patents being granted. As a result, there are many proposals for reforming the patent system, not all of which would actually get to the crux of the problem.. which is that the USPTO has limited resources to tackle an extraordinary amount of work. We think we have a solution that will help the USPTO meet its workload challenge and also improve the quality of the patents it grants.

This is just the beginning. To help the USPTO we submitted our letter.

Let us know what you think. How can we help the USPTO?

5 Responses

  1. The major problem with USPTO is that they are inefficient at their hiring process. I have applied twice now since graduating with my ChemE masters in DEC 2008 with two different departments. I have a strong academic record and credentials that I could offer, but, as of late I still have not been placed. This is a common problem I have discussed with my peers who are in the same position as myself. My one friend who’s background is in EE was offered a job in two months after his initial application. My point is, if they are so interested in decreasing their backlog of patent applications then recruit more disciplines at an expedited rate like they do for EEs.

  2. Patents in biotechnology do not always stimulate innovation. Take for example a fellow I met who is studying patent law for his doctorate degree. His original passion was molecular research, but his graduate project became too expensive due to fees related to patent royalties tied to various proteins being used in his experiments, so he left science to study patent law.

  3. What ever happened to the ill fated Disclosure Document Program? It seemed to eliminate what is not the Provisional Application and would free up some of the 6,000 persons to do the real work of assimilating actual real world patent data? There needs to be other than the “King James” version of patent law that would allow inventors to cut to the chase and avoid improperly submitted works. Possibly a digital checklist /form with concise instructions that anybody could understand and a larger effort to digitize the library t cross reference the incoming onslaught of new ideas and reduce initial manpower.

  4. Possibly a change in what is considered to have Prior Right under the law. Isn’t this the goal, to establish prior right? We have intelligent well intentioned PTO employees lost in the quagmire of whether or not the ideas have prior merit when this should be the job of the courts. Inventors should have proof with better options than notarized copies, or copies mailed to themselves. We need a more “Cut to the Chase” approach to establishing prior right, possibly in conjunction with the US Mail (I know…but they’re getting better!) where there is a proviso to allow for disclosure, prior to non-provisionals! What do you think?

  5. Why is it that innovation and world progress is held down by some poor inventors budget? re. Comment by J Baker above.
    Where is our Governments effort to make innovation possible without the morass of patent attorneys who make more money than the inventors themselves, even when the ideas have no merit. The premise is that persons wishing protection must trust a lawyer, I mean aren’t lawyer and trust mutually exclusive terms? The solution is not more red tape bureaucracy. Why is it that the body of Patent Law could not be simplified to a functional framework that didn’t require the lifelong effort of some scavenging barrister to interpolate?

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