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.
In August 2013, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) reported a backlog of 591,665 patent applications waiting to be examined and an average total pendency (time from filing to end of examination) of 29.4 months.
Whether the process is performed by an independent inventor or a corporate entity that regularly files U.S. patent applications, having a patent application(s) drafted, filed, and prosecuted involves a substantial investment in invention development time and costs, as well as legal expenses. An additional emotional investment is often based on the hope that pursuing and protecting the invention(s) will result in financial rewards.
In the last 12 months, nearly 95 companies have taken out advertisements in Ceramic Industry. A search on these companies as assignees on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) website (www.uspto.gov) reveals that only about 40% own issued U.S. patents and/or published U.S. patent applications.