Regional Patent Offices to Reduce Backlog

By Joseph Mandour on February 11, 2011

ideadice-thumb-200x144-33988 California – As part of President Obama’s plan to double domestic exports over the next five years, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is creating regional offices across the country in an effort to reduce the backlog of pending patent applications. The speedier process will enable businesses to bring their products to market sooner thus boosting our economy.

The first regional office will be in Detroit and is slated to open in late spring or early summer of this year. The increased number of examining experts is expected to reduce the average wait time for approval of a patent application from three years to one. Additional offices will be opened if Detroit proves to be successful.

The USPTO employs more than 6,000 patent examiners at its sole office in Alexandria, VA. The examiners consist of scientists and engineers and are trained on the basic legal precedents of issuing patents. With a turnover rate of one examiner leaving for every two that are hired, the USPTO has had the highest employee attrition rate of any government agency. This has led to the backlog and delayed examination and approval processes.

The goal of the USPTO is to match a particular patent application with an examiner who is an expert in that particular field, thus increasing efficiency and quality in the examination process. This plan for increased efficiency will be put to test in the Detroit office, where automotive-related applications will be appropriately matched with the large pool of highly trained engineers and scientists with experience in the automotive industry.

Another benefit of the regional offices will be the personalization of face-to-face meetings of examiners and the inventors and their patent attorneys. This helps them gain a better understanding of the patent at issue and will reduce travel costs for the inventor who wishes to meet with their examiner. Another benefit of the regional offices will be the expanded congressional support and increased likelihood of remaining fully funded.

Even though the 3 year to 1 year goal sounds a little ambitious, the USPTO appears to be headed in the right direction.

Related Articles:

Posted in: Patent Registration