A few months ago, IPWatchdog author, Practice Center contributor, and PLI Patent Bar Review instructor, Gene Quinn was granted an exclusive interview with USPTO Director and Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property, David Kappos. Throughout the lengthy interview, the focus shifted from acceleration of applications through the Track 1 program, to agency-wide uniformity despite having 7,000 examiners, and to current initiatives geared toward making the near future for the patent system more efficient. It is amazing to see how Quinn, one of the primary instructors of PLI’s Patent Bar Review, is treated with such respect by the Director of the USPTO.
For the transcript of the interview in its entirety, click here for the IPWatchdog postings. Here are some of the key points taken from the conversation between Quinn and Kappos:
- The Track 1 initiative was put in place by the AIA. A modest pace of applications have been coming in. The USPTO has been mailing out notices of allowance essentially on a daily basis for Track 1 applications. The idea behind Track 1 is that it will accelerate the processing speed at the USPTO.
- USPTO has been working for a long time on e-publication and e-grant, as well as patent e-grant. The idea is that it will shave time off the grant cycle because then an applicant doesn’t have to go through the publication process.
- AIA gave the USPTO fee setting authority, meanwhile creating the micro entity status. This allows the USPTO to provide a 50% reduction for small businesses. Today, a start-up company would only pay $2,400 to accelerate a patent decision to within one year. As soon as a new fee schedule is in place, the micro-entity discount will change.
- The USPTO manages 7,000 examiners to produce agency-wide uniformity by consistently training examiners with continuous improvement as the goal. A lot of training and skill development focus on accountability and measurement.
- Getting a good patent is about both good examination and filing a good application and then prosecuting it or working it through in a way that is both reasonable and convergent on getting to issues and getting them resolved.
- The USPTO is going to take another 265,000 old cases and get them out and examined. The time lines are very tight between working on the old cases and implementing the AIA.
- The USPTO is really productively engaged with the EPO on the cooperative patent classification project. They are going to have well maintained, up to date classifications that will enable examiners to leverage the system.