Anticipate This!™ | Patent and Trademark Law Blog

USPTO Will Begin Study of Patent Examiners’ Production Goals.

Posted in General Commentary by Jake Ward on October 5, 2007

Per a recent USPTO press release

The Commerce Department’s United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) today announced that, as part of its quality initiatives, it will review assumptions the agency uses to establish production goals for patent examiners. This announcement coincides with the release of the Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, “Hiring Efforts are not Sufficient to Reduce Patent Application Backlog.” The report recommends that the USPTO “undertake a comprehensive evaluation of the assumptions that the agency uses to establish its productions goals.” In its review, the USPTO will work with its examiners and user communities.

USPTO Director Jon Dudas praised the GAO report, stating “I am pleased that, after careful study, the GAO agrees with our assessment that hiring alone will not reduce the backlog of patent applications. By far, our most valuable resource is our employees. We believe that our 5-year strategic plan identifies initiatives that effectively protect innovation while promoting a quality workplace that attracts and retains employees. That is why many of our most current initiatives incentivize applicants and the public to provide the best information to patent examiners early in the examination process.”

Focusing attention on the rapid changes the USPTO has faced, Director Dudas noted that “over the past decade, the USPTO workload has increased in size and complexity. In response, we have also implemented a long list of successful internal initiatives, from automating examiner search tools to hiring over 3,600 new examiners in the past three years. As a result, we have seen improvements in quality and production. A next logical step in bringing the USPTO fully into the 21st century is to reevaluate how these initiatives impact our goals.”

The USPTO’s review of assumptions underlying the current production standards will encourage a completely fresh look at production in a manner that will motivate employees, improve its work environment, and enhance the quality and efficiency of the patent examination process.

The Patenthawk has an interesting post on the GAO report leading up to this press release.

2007 Ig Nobel Prize Winners.

Posted in Science and Technology by Jake Ward on October 5, 2007

The 2007 Ig Nobel Prize winners were announced yesterday at Harvard’s Sanders Theatre.  Per this Wikipedia entry, the Ig Nobel Prizes are a parody of the Nobel Prizes and are given each year for ten achievements that “first make people laugh, and then make them think.” The prize is organized by the science humor magazine Annals of Improbable Research (AIR).

The 2007 winners include:

 • Chemistry: Mayu Yamamoto of the International Medical Center of Japan, for developing a way to extract vanillin, or vanilla fragrance and flavoring, from cow dung.

• Linguistics: A University of Barcelona team for a study showing rats sometimes fail to distinguish between a person speaking Japanese backward and a person speaking Dutch backward.

• Peace Prize: The Air Force Wright Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio, for instigating research and development of a chemical weapon, the “gay bomb,” that “will make enemy soldiers become sexually irresistible to each other.”

• Economics: Kuo Cheng Hsieh, of Taichung, Taiwan, for patenting a device in 2001 that catches bank robbers by dropping a net over them.

• Medicine: Brain Witcombe, of Gloucestershire Royal NHS Foundation Trust, and sword swallower Dan Meyer, of Antioch, Tenn., for their insightful work on the health consequences of swallowing a sword.

• Physics: A U.S.-Chilean team that ironed out the problem of how sheets become wrinkled.

• Biology: Johanna van Bronswijk of the Netherlands for carrying out a creepy-crawly census of all of the mites, insects, spiders, ferns and fungi that share our beds.

• Literature: Glenda Browne of Blue Mountains, Australia, for her study of “the,” and how it can flummox those trying to put things into alphabetical order.

• Nutrition: Brian Wansink of Cornell University for investigating the limits of human appetite by feeding volunteers a self-refilling, “bottomless” bowl of soup.

• Aviation: A National University of Quilmes, Argentina, team for discovering that impotency drugs can help hamsters recover from jet lag.