Updates from the GAO and USPTO

Two reports of work at the United States Patent and Trademark Office and data from a survey have been published by the Government Accountability Office per Representative Goodlatte. From the findings in the reports and survey the GAO is making recommendations regarding patents and search capabilities. Read more below:

The Government Accountability Office has today released two
reports on the USPTO, as well as data from the survey of
roughly 2,600 patent examiners. All three are below:

Office Should Define Quality, Reassess Incentives, and Improve

Office Should Strengthen Search Capabilities and Better Monitor
Examiners’ Work

Survey of
US Patent Examiners

As noted
by Dennis Crouch on the Patently-O blog
, the reports were
requested by Representative Goodlatte in his role as chair of
the House Judiciary Committee. “I expect that Rep. Goodlatte
will hold hearings with PTO representatives in the fall to
focus on ways to move forward,” said Crouch.

Commenting on the findings of the
report on quality, incentives and clarity, the GAO concluded:
“GAO makes seven recommendations, including that USPTO more
consistently define patent quality and articulate that
definition in agency documents and guidance, reassess the time
allotted for examination, analyse the effects of incentives on
patent quality, and consider requiring applicants to use
additional clarity tools. USPTO generally agreed with GAO’s
findings, concurred with the recommendations, and provided
information on steps officials plan to take to implement the

The GAO’s overview of the report on
strengthening search capabilities and monitoring
examiners’ work states: “GAO is making seven
recommendations, among them, that USPTO develop a strategy to
identify key sources of nonpatent literature, establish goals
and indicators for prior art search quality, and collect
sufficient information to assess prior art search quality.
USPTO concurred with GAO’s recommendations.”

Some find the survey results more interesting than the
actual reports.

Lisa Ouellette, assistant professor at Stanford Law School,

commented on the Written Description blog
: “I think the
survey data is more interesting than the conclusions; examiners
were asked questions including how much time they spend on
different parts of examination, how useful they found PTO
training, how often they searched for/used different types of
prior art, what factors make prior art searching/examination
difficult, how much uncompensated overtime they worked to meet
production goals, how confident they were that they found the
most relevant prior art, what they think of PTO quality
initiatives, etc. Lots of rich data here!”

IP observers on Twitter are already giving their reactions to
the reports:

Source: http://www.managingip.com/Blog/3572126/GAO-releases-two-patent-reports.html