From 2008 to 2012, the percentage of examiner interviews conducted for U.S. patent applications nearly doubled from about 15 to 30%. In 2012, 90% of applications in which examiner interviews were conducted were allowed, compared to a 61% allowance rate for patents in which no interviews were conducted. These trends have continued.
More than 30 years ago when I started my career as a patent examiner in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), there was a common phrase that went something like this: “Patents are not valid until they are litigated.”
Last year saw 5,769 new patent suits filed in federal district courts, representing a 15% increase over the previous year, with non-practicing entities (NPEs) filing two out of every three of these suits.
In my March 2014 column (“Compact Prosecution,” pp. 9-10), I discussed how U.S. patent applicants resorted to filing requests for continued examination (RCE) applications as the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) stayed the course on compact prosecution.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) September 7, 2010, Director’s Form: A Blog from USPTO’s Leadership addressed the then current backlog of more than 700,000 applications, efforts to reduce pendency and factors that contribute to examination delays.
The disclosure of an invention in a patent application must meet the “enablement” provision of the U.S. Code, which states that the “specification shall contain a written description of the invention, and of the manner and process of making and using it, in such full, clear, concise, and exact terms as to enable any person skilled in the art to which it pertains, or with which it is most nearly connected, to make and use the same.”
“The preissuance submission provision in the America Invents Act aims to bring the most relevant prior art to the examiner’s attention as early as possible during prosecution to enhance examination effectiveness and efficiency,” says Undersecretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) David Kappos.