Anticipate This!™ | Patent and Trademark Law Blog

USPTO Seeks Practitioners to Test Online Continuing Education System.

Posted in General Commentary by Jake Ward on August 25, 2008

Per this recent USPTO press release:

The USPTO is developing a Continuing Education for Practitioners (“CEP”) system for on-line delivery of educational materials to patent practitioners, and is seeking help in piloting the on-line system. The CEP system is built on the recognition that a smoothly operating patent system requires well-qualified USPTO personnel working hand-in-hand with up-to-date patent practitioners. The goal is to increase efficiency, reduce pendency, and improve quality in the patent process. Additional information concerning the CEP system and the pilot test is provided below.

The CEP System
The CEP program would present brief educational materials concerning recent USPTO rule changes, revised patent examination guidelines, or the like. The practitioner would respond to one or more verification questions or prompts after reviewing the educational materials. The verification questions will be drawn directly from the training material and the practitioner will have ready access to the educational material while responding to the verification questions. In other words, the verification questions are designed to verify the practitioner has reviewed the materials; they are not a test of knowledge or skills.

The total time spent reviewing the educational materials and responding to verification questions should be approximately one hour. Practitioners would be required to complete one CEP program per year. As envisioned, the system would automatically notify practitioners of the training requirements, send appropriate reminder notices, and track completion. No fee will be charged to access the training materials; a fee would accrue only for failing to timely complete the training.

Pilot Testing of the CEP System
The USPTO is set to begin a pilot test of an on-line learning management system (“LMS”) designed to deliver educational materials to CEP participants. Up to 1000 registered practitioners are sought to help evaluate the LMS and provide feedback concerning the system’s ease of use and the usefulness of the educational materials. All pilot participants will be volunteers. The pilot test will not affect the registration status of any practitioner on the official roster of patent attorneys and agents.

Each pilot participant will receive a notice informing him/her of a CEP course requirement and identifying a CEP information website. The initial notice will specify the pilot CEP course deadline. Separate notices will provide a username and password. Pilot participants can then sign on using the assigned username and password. A link to the educational materials is provided once the registered practitioner is signed on. As noted previously, a practitioner should be able to complete the pilot CEP course in approximately one hour. In addition to completing the pilot CEP course, pilot volunteers would be asked to provide feedback as to the CEP system’s ease-of-use and the substantive value of the educational materials. Pilot participants will be required to complete only one course; however additional courses will be available for review. Participants in the pilot program will be deemed to have satisfied the first year’s requirement for CEP at such time as the USPTO makes CEP a requirement.

What is the Expected Timing of the Pilot CEP Course?
The pilot CEP course is expected to launch in late August 2008. The initial pilot CEP course deadline should be approximately three weeks after the initial launch, and the extended training deadline will be one week after the initial CEP course deadline. Due to the shortened time frame, pilot volunteers will receive all notices and reminders by e-mail.

Practitioners may volunteer for the program by sending an e-mail to

2 Responses

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  1. Jake Ward said, on September 3, 2008 at 8:41 pm

    Received the Pilot User ID and Password today. Information concerning the CEP pilot program, including a link to access the on-line Learning Management System LMS, is available on the Internet at: .

    Will let you know our thoughts after completing the pilot.

  2. Jake Ward said, on October 7, 2008 at 2:03 pm

    Trialed the USPTO CEP system last week. System was easy to use and to navigate, once I figured out which links to select (were not very clearly labeled, in my opinion). The KSR and petitions content was not earth-shattering, but still informative. Overall, I thought the CEP system was suitable for its purpose, and could probably be adopted with minimal changes. Any comments from our readers who also trialed the system?

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