Monday, March 27, 2006

A linkage between PTO continuation reform and time/application?

An issue that is not getting much attention is the impact of the proposed PTO change on continuing applications ON time spent per application.

POPA states: limiting second and subsequent continuation applications which examiners usually process more quickly would INCREASE the number of tough cases per docket and decrease examiners' action counts, automatically making it harder for them to meet production goals.

POPA raises the issue that the impact of limiting second and subsequent applications would not fall uniformly on the examination corps, but would fall disproportionately on the senior and primary examiners, who handle most of the continuation work. POPA says this would mean these examiners would have to do more than four new cases a year, and, in effect, lower the time spent per application.

[As a small caveat, while many people discuss this in terms of "continuation" applications, the proposal would effect continuing applications (including cips and RCEs, but excluding divs). There are currently more RCEs filed than traditional continuations.]

Apart from the POPA issue about the possible decrease in "time spent per application," there is the separate issue that any gains from limiting second and subsequent applications would not solve the problem of the mounting backlog anyway. There are too few second and subsequent applications to matter.

Combine the two issues, and one wonders if limitations on second and subsequent continuing applications is more smoke and mirrors than substance?

[IPBiz post 1399]


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