USPTO Five-Year Plan
The USPTO has recently announced the release of a DRAFT Five-Year plan for “Continued World Leadership in IP Protection and Policy.” The roadmap was made available for public comment. See press release.
With respect to patents, the proposals are aimed at ensuring quality and timeliness in the patent review process. Broad goals are outlined, e.g. programs to define and improve “quality,” determining acceptable time frames for prosecution, hiring, training and retaining highly skilled patent examiners, abolishing the one-size fits all examination system, focusing examination on the claimed invention, and leveraging state-of-the-art information technology. Specifically enumerated initiatives proposed for meeting said goals include:
1.) hiring at least 1,000 patent examiners annually for the next five years;
2.) possibly establishing regional offices;
3.) creating partnerships with universities;
4.) offering retention bonuses and new monetary awards to patent examiners for meeting goals; and
5.) maximizing the potential of state-of-the-art electronic tools.
These are lofty goals, and the USPTO certainly has its work cut out for it when it comes to reforming the system. The USPTO should be applauded for taking the task on . . . and it will be interesting to watch what changes will be adopted (and, more importantly, whether those changes actually improve the quality of patents issued).
I wonder, does “state-of-the-art electronic tools” include the Examining Machine?