Anticipate This!™ | Patent and Trademark Law Blog

Analysis of USPTO Continuing Education for Practitioners (CEP) Pilot Program.

Posted in Practice Commentary by Jake Ward on January 15, 2009

As indicated in this previous AT! post, we had participated in the USPTO’s Continuing Education for Practitioners (CEP) Pilot Program.  As part of the pilot, the USPTO solicited comments and suggestions from participants relating to the perceived positive and negative aspects of the pilot.  Below is a summary and analysis of the pilot, including comments and suggestions received from the participants, that was provided today by the USPTO Office of Enrollment and Discipline (OED).

USPTO continuing education courses are intended to be a free source of information concerning recent changes to USPTO rules and procedures, revised patent statutes, and helpful hints concerning practice before the USPTO.  The CEP Pilot Program presented three educational courses: (1) USPTO Examination Guidelines Following KSR v. Teleflex; (2) Common Errors in Petitions Practice; and (3) Electronic Signatures and Powers of Attorney in the USPTO.  Additional courses are planned based on the suggestions provided during the CEP Pilot Program.

A total of 864 registered patent practitioners (652 attorneys, 212 agents) were accepted as volunteers to participate in the CEP Pilot Program.  Of the 864 volunteers, 513 (59.4%) completed the program by the September 23 initial deadline.  A total of 669 volunteers (77.4%) completed the program by the September 30 extended deadline, and 195 (22.6%) did not complete the full program as of October 1.  Among registered patent agents, the completion rate was 176 of 212 (83.0%); the completion rate among registered patent attorneys was 493 of 652 (75.6%).  A total of 764 volunteers (88.4%) accessed the system during the course of the pilot.

Four hundred six (406) volunteers provided written feedback concerning the CEP program.  In general, users indicated they liked hearing the USPTO perspective on matters and helpful hints on practice before the office.  Course content and presentation received high grades, but participants noted a number of areas where delivery of the courses through the Learning Management System could be improved.

The USPTO is working on system improvements to address concerns and suggestions provided by the pilot participants.  For example, a large number of volunteers requested that slides be made available for printing prior to viewing the accompanying video; we plan to do so.  Additionally, navigation between the video segments and the verification questions should be improved, user access to the courses after the user has completed the course should become more straightforward, and low-bandwidth versions of the courses will be prepared.  Future CEP courses will be developed in accordance with subjects suggested by participants.

Final rules concerning Continuing Education for Practitioners are currently under consideration.  Further announcements will be made as developments occur.

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