At the same time that it announced an almost 50% reduction in its backlog of request for continued examinations over the past year, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) announced a new initiative to improve patent quality. During the quarterly Patent Public Advisory Committee (PPAC) meeting in August, USPTO Commissioner for Patents, Peggy Focarino, said the new focus on quality was a result of the PTO approaching optimal steady state application pendency and the AIA creating a sustainable fee reserve to fund such initiatives. Peggy Focarino, who gave a presentation titled “Building a World-Class Patent Quality System,” said the USPTO hopes that the quality initiative will build confidence in and improve access to the patent system, promote transparency and improve the public perception of patents. The USPTO is still in initial planning stages of the project but it has identified three main areas of focus:
- Providing the best work product and services throughout the patent process (including by expanding and refining examiner training, enhancing prior art searches, international work sharing and measuring quality).
- Improving customer experience (including by providing patent employees with customer service training and best practices, as well as improving how questions and complaints are handled).
- Engaging the public (including by seeking input on quality measures and systems and the USPTO’s expanding partnership and outreach efforts).
The agency will soon begin to seek input on measuring quality and ideas to further improve quality from employees and stakeholders through roadshows, Federal Register notices and blogs. Peggy Focorino’s presentation and a video of the whole PPAC meeting is available on the USPTO’s website.