Anticipate This!™ | Patent and Trademark Law Blog

President Obama Calls USPTO Case Management System “Embarrassing”.

Posted in General Commentary by Jake Ward on January 15, 2010


The following quote is from as set of prepared remarks made yesterday afternoon byPresident Obama at the Opening Session of the Forum on Modernizing Government, held at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, DC.

Believe it or not, in our patent office — now, this is embarrassing — this is an institution responsible for protecting and promoting innovation — our patent office receives more than 80 percent of patent applications electronically, then manually prints them out, scans them, and enters them into an outdated case management system.  This is one of the reasons why the average processing time for a patent is roughly three years.  Imminently solvable; hasn’t been solved yet.

The President was referring to the USPTO as one example where the Federal Government has failed to timely update or replace outdated technology, and how it adversely affects efficiency. 

However, even if this statement about the USPTO is true (and Gene Quinn at IPWatchdog points out that it really isn’t),  is it really a fair example?  Certainly, most practitioners recognize that the USPTO has a severe problem with patent pendency, which should be an embarrassment in and of itself.  But wouldn’t any rescanning that occurs just minimally affect pendency, especially relative to all the other factors that impact pendency of an application, such as the quota-based count system, Examiner retention and training, etc., to name just a few? 

Any thoughts from our readership?

2 Responses

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  1. Patrick M. Moore said, on January 17, 2010 at 5:59 pm

    I used to be a Patent Examiner and could not agree more with President Obama’s sentiments. The entire system is arcane — beginning with the submission process and continuing throughout an applicant’s adjudication.

  2. Michael Vitale said, on January 18, 2010 at 2:07 pm

    If the problem is really “imminently” solvable, as the President apparently said, then we have no worries, because the solution will come soon. He meant to say “eminently”. I hope his facts are more solid than his vocabulary.

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