In a move designed to improve employee morale and to help reduce a growing backlog, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office proposed changes Wednesday [Sept. 30] to its way of determining how long a patent examiner has to complete a patent examination and the incentives that examiners earn.
The proposal would award more credits earlier in the process and allow examiners to interview applicants before reviewing the entire application. That long-sought option should help shorten the process by allowing the applicant and examiner to discuss details earlier in the process, said Deputy Commissioner for Patent Operations Peggy Focarino.
Patently-O wrote of this: The proposed changes are not dramatic, but they may have some incremental benefit of reducing RCE churning (see below). The proposal also provides for an additional hour of examination time per case with the expectation that the added time will be used up-front in an interview or in preparing a quality first office action on the merits (FAOM).
On 20 October 2009, Ed O'Keefe reported in the Washington Post:
But the PTO took an encouraging step Friday, when patent examiners approved changes that help determine how long they have to complete patent examinations and the incentives they earn. Kappos got the ball rolling shortly after he arrived by getting agency officials and union representatives into a room to draft changes to the "count system" for the first time in more than 30 years.
"I locked the door and said, 'I want a new system that does no harm to our employees, that gives examiners more time to do their work, that incentivizes parts of the process early in the process,' " he said. Kappos also promised to meet with negotiators every week while they worked on the changes and mandated an Oct. 1 deadline. Then, he said, he walked out of the room.
"It's Management 101, it's how it works in the real world and that's what I'm doing here at the U.S. PTO," he said.
**Mark Lemley, in writing "Ending Abuse..." had basically ignored RCEs and issues of "churning of counts" by examiners.
Examining the examiners of patent examination
Pablum from the PTO?