Patent Office head lays out reform strategy
Date: Thursday, March 01, 2007 @ 22:07:45 MST
From KeelyNet.com Whatsnew: (They miss the KEY POINT...make every patent applicant provide a working model, period. Prove what is being claimed. - JWD) Critics claim that the USPTO lacks enough qualified examiners and issues too many bad patents. The delivery of patent rulings takes longer than applicants would like, slowing down the introduction of innovations into commercial markets. The agency is trying to remedy that problem in part by hiring more examiners, Dudas told me. Last year, the USPTO hired 1,218 patent examiners, for a total of 5,500, and plans to hire 1,000 per year for the next five years.
The USPTO received in excess of 440,000 patent applications and completed 332,000 patent applications in 2006. However, the total backlog of patent applications in around 700,000. Dudas countered the claim that the agency issues an excess of unwarranted patents. "Only 54 percent of cases and some claims get approved," Dudas said. The biggest threat today on bad quality patents is the "law of obviousness," Dudas said. The Supreme Court has heard oral arguments in KSR v. Teleflex, a case that could determine what makes up a 'nonobvious' invention. Dudas said that examiners need to be given more deference in determining what is obvious. In the category of getting more information, Dudas said the having applicants submit more complete information, including their own search reports and analysis of why a patent should be granted given similar existing patents. Patent attorneys have been concerned that providing more information could be a liability. If information on a patent application is found out to be false, or a 'lie,' the application is summarily thrown out. Statues need to be changed to accommodate a standard of information accuracy that clearly allows for truly unintended misinformation. Ultimately, "the measure of innovation and competitiveness is not the number of patents but the quality of patents," Dudas concluded. But, the measure of success for the USPTO will be the quantity and quantity of patents that it can process. Improvements are in place, but a backlog of 700,000 will take years to dissipate. /Fixing the US Patent System