USPTO Releases Draft Five Year Plan

July 9, 2010. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) released a draft [76 pages in PDF] of its "FY 2010-2015 Strategic Plan".

The USPTO also published a notice in the Federal Register that announces and describes this draft, and sets the deadline for comments (July 26, 2010). See, Federal Register, July 9, 2010, Vol. 75, No. 131, at Pages 39493-39494.

This draft plan states that it "is designed to strengthen the capacity of the USPTO, improve the quality of patents and trademarks issued and shorten the time it takes to get a patent". This draft adds that the USPTO ability to accomplish this is contingent upon its receiving adequate funding, fee setting authority, and enhanced post grant reexamination authority.

"For most of the last century, the United States has been the clear leader in developing new technologies, products and entire industries", the plan states. But, it also states that the U.S. innovation edge is at risk.

It states that "patent pendency has a direct impact on American competitiveness" because the longer it takes to issue a patent, the longer it takes for the patentee to reaps the benefits.

It also states that the USPTO "must adopt more private sector business practices and market-driven services for patent application processing. The traditional ``one-size-fits-all´´ examination timing does not work for all applicants. While seeking an optimal pendency time that is efficient for applicants generally, USPTO will seek to provide applicants greater control over the timing of examination".

"The USPTO must also improve the quality of application review. Without well-defined claims, the value of a patent is uncertain. Uncertainty means risk that a patent is invalid; risk that a patent does not protect the patentee’s product; and risk that a good faith competitor cannot determine its scope to responsibly avoid infringement. Such patents exact a high cost by decreasing public confidence in the IP system."

It also states that "globally integrated economies and companies, along with increased electronic processing capability, require us to have full electronic processing that is safe, secure, and continually available to employees, applicants and stakeholders. While significant challenges to interoperability and standards exist, the USPTO’s strategic plan includes developing an IT system incorporating an operating platform that enables the transition of the patent application process to one in which applications are submitted, handled and prosecuted electronically using fully machine-readable formats and open standards."

This draft plan enumerates eight "Strategic Objectives/Priorities".

David Kappos, head of the USPTO, stated in a release that this is "a plan that will strengthen the USPTO, enhance the U.S. IP system and help drive innovation, job creation and economic growth".