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Planet Depos We Make It Happen

  • CRCW 2021: Planet Depos Salutes Our Fearless Students
    by Darlene Williams on February 11, 2021 at 2:49 pm

    Oh, my, what a difference a year makes!  With the global pandemic changing life as we know it, just think how much we’ve learned this past year.  No one could have seen COVID coming, but once it hit, it was all hands on deck at Planet Depos to adapt and chart a course to a The post CRCW 2021: Planet Depos Salutes Our Fearless Students appeared first on Planet Depos.

  • Top Security Tips for Working From Home
    by Suzanne Quinson on February 10, 2021 at 6:00 pm

    Since so many of us began working from home in the spring of 2020, we have been hearing how important security is. Information on VPNs, encryption, and other measures to protect data have been rolling out regularly for many months. Filters and firewalls are great, but what can you do to enhance your own personal The post Top Security Tips for Working From Home appeared first on Planet Depos.

  • Remote Deposition Tips: Pointers from the Field
    by Suzanne Quinson on January 13, 2021 at 3:30 pm

    With 2020 having finally reached its long-awaited close, why not consider a positive of the year? We have mastered the art of the remote deposition! Yes, after months of Zooming here and there and everywhere, it is time to not just cheer a job well done, but to share some of the best tips for The post Remote Deposition Tips: Pointers from the Field appeared first on Planet Depos.

  • The Great Remote Roundup: A 2020 Review
    by Suzanne Quinson on December 30, 2020 at 8:37 pm

    As we close the door on 2020, let’s take a look back at a few of the cool things we’ve learned to do remotely. The post The Great Remote Roundup: A 2020 Review appeared first on Planet Depos.

  • Tis The Season – The American Red Cross Gives Hope
    by Suzanne Quinson on December 17, 2020 at 4:36 pm

    In the spirit of the season and to contribute to the fight against COVID-19, Planet Depos selected the American Red Cross for a holiday donation. The post Tis The Season – The American Red Cross Gives Hope appeared first on Planet Depos.

Director's Forum: A Blog from USPTO's Leadership Updates from America’s innovation agency

  • Spotlight on Commerce: LaRita Jones, Division Chief, Office of Human Resources, USPTO
    by USPTO on February 21, 2021 at 8:51 pm

    Guest blog post by LaRita Jones, Division Chief, Office of Human Resources, USPTOLaRita Jones, Division Chief, Office of Human Resources, USPTOBlack History Month is a time to honor and show gratitude to African Americans who have made contributions – whether extraordinary or minute, well-known or untold – to better humanity in some way. It is a time to express pride as we reflect on a heritage full of triumph over the harshest of adversities and celebrate innovations we have made in the arts, science, and technology and our achievements in politics and business. It is a time to remember the Black heroes of the past while uplifting our heroes of today.A personal hero of mine is my father, Carl Ross. He was a career Army soldier who served two tours in Vietnam and retired as a master sergeant. He performed his duty with the highest work ethic and took so much pride in defending his country, even when fellow soldiers and officers did not treat him as their equal. I admire him for leading a life of bravery, honor, and integrity despite all the barriers to equality that he faced.I remember him meticulously pressing his uniform and polishing the toes of his combat boots so perfectly that I could see my reflection. My father taught me that education was the top priority and that hard work starts with showing up and ready to work hard every day. He said that being a committed, responsible individual who can be trusted is important, particularly when things are not fair or favorable. I have leaned on all that my dad taught me about having integrity and dignity, showing up every day, working hard, and treating others with respect – even when I did not receive the same in return.That advice was especially relevant when I attended the University of Washington to earn a degree in Sociology. There were few African Americans enrolled here and it was not always easy. As a way to connect with other students of color, I joined Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and volunteered in communities with other Black sororities and fraternities.It was through this sisterhood that I gained a deeper understanding of, and reverence for, my African American heritage, which is filled with heroes who continue to break barriers still today. With immense pride, I have witnessed the election of the first female, and first African American vice president Kamala Harris, who is also a member of our illustrious sorority.Seeing my father give his entire career in service to his country and then joining an organization rooted in service to humanity, a career in public service was a natural fit for me. Currently, I serve as the division chief of a high-functioning team of human resources professionals responsible for recruitment, classification, and staffing consultation in support of the Patents business unit.I extend my father’s advice to my employees and I can see in their work ethic that they share the same passion as I do for connecting top Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) talent with fulfilling careers at the Commerce Department’s U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Careers in government are more progressive, inclusive, and agile than ever before. Opportunities today seem limitless compared to when I started my own government career. And I am proud to work at an agency that champions diversity and inclusion in the way that the USPTO does.We are constantly striving to increase recruitment and retention among underrepresented populations as part of one of our agency’s key strategic goals to “recruit, enhance and sustain an engaged workforce.” As we continue to build deeper and more meaningful relationships to attract, hire, and retain talent from historically Black colleges and universities, Hispanic serving institutions, tribal and community institutions, and women in STEM organizations, it is my hope to see the USPTO significantly boost each of these employee groups in the years to come.I also hope that my work in some way—whether extraordinary or minute—inspires students at those institutions who may not yet grasp that their personal and professional opportunities are indeed limitless, thanks in large part to the contributions of African Americans in this country.Each celebration of Black History Month means that there is another opportunity to celebrate African American heroes. Hopefully, it also motivates and encourages future generations to value themselves and fully appreciate all they can become.Ed. note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series highlighting the contributions of Department of Commerce African Americans during Black History Month.

  • Leading the way in the IP economy
    by USPTO on January 19, 2021 at 5:30 pm

    Blog by Andrei Iancu, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTODirector Iancu at the quarterly meeting of the Patent Public Advisory Committee at the USPTO in Alexandria, Virginia on August 2, 2018. (Photo by Jeff Isaacs/USPTO)At the outset of my tenure as Director of the USPTO in early 2018, I challenged the USPTO staff and stakeholders to focus on reclaiming our nation’s leadership on intellectual property, first by creating a new, pro-innovation, pro-IP dialogue and, second, by balancing our IP systems and increasing the reliability of the rights we issue.Working together for the past three years, we did exactly that—and so much more. The list below summarizes a number of our accomplishments, but let me highlight a few. We issued new guidance to our examiners on patent subject matter eligibility in 2019. The USPTO’s Chief Economist confirmed in a study released in April 2020 that the uncertainty of examination in this area has decreased by a remarkable 44% in the one year following publication of the guidance. We balanced post-grant proceedings at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board through a series of carefully calibrated initiatives, including aligning the claim construction standard with the district courts, improving the amendment process, reducing duplicative proceedings, and increasing transparency and consistency of decisions. We decreased patent examination pendency to 23.3 months on average, the lowest since 2001. We also reduced the average patent appeal time to a remarkable 13 months, down from 30 months in 2015.We reduced fraudulent trademark applications through improved technology, examination, and various new procedures. And we saw the passage of the Trademark Modernization Act, the most important trademarks legislation in decades. Furthermore, we improved operations at the USPTO, and upgraded, backed up, and secured our vast data repositories, information technology systems, and telecommunications networks. We completely revamped and modernized our website. And we created artificial intelligence tools for classification, examination, and much more to come. Importantly, we maintained continuity of operations during the pandemic and during a government shutdown due to lapse in funding.  Director Iancu and Director General Juan Lozano Tovar, Instituto Mexicano de la Propiedad Industrial (IMPI) at the signing ceremony for the USPTO-IMPI Work-Sharing Agreement on February 5, 2020.Internationally, we forged a broad-based coalition of countries to elect new leadership at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) that respects and champions intellectual property rights. We implemented a first-of-its-kind Parallel Patent Grant with Mexico. And we signed a patent validation agreement with Cambodia, and many MOUs with countries around the world.We recognized the need for a renaissance in American innovation – one that opened doors for more women, minorities and geographic regions to participate in the American intellectual property system. As a result, last fall we kicked-off the inaugural meeting of the ground-breaking National Council for Expanding American Innovation, which is now fully operational and in the process of helping us develop a first-ever National Innovation Strategy aimed at substantially broadening participation in the innovation economy, demographically, geographically and economically. Director Iancu meets with a kindergarten class at Terra Centre Elementary School in Burke, Virginia on April 4, 2019, where he took part in their Kindergarten Invention Expo and gave a presentation on IP and invention. (Photo by Jay Premack/USPTO)Additionally, I’ve spent the past year presenting to faculty and students at dozens of America’s top intellectual property universities, seeking to establish among our next generation of IP professionals a common understanding of, and appreciation for, the theories, benefits, and practical applications of intellectual property laws. Through these and numerous other engagements, we have highlighted for teachers, parents, and students from kindergarten through college the virtues of invention, IP protection, and entrepreneurship, and shared information about the important and exciting careers that exist for innovators and IP professionals. Additionally, we created new training programs, such as the Legal Experience and Advancement Program, for fledgling patent attorneys so they can gain confidence and experience in patent and trademark proceedings. Director Iancu interviews Dr. Martine Rothblatt, the creator of SiriusXM Satellite Radio, former CEO of GeoStar, and the founder and CEO of the Board of United Therapeutics on December 4, 2019, as part of the USPTO Speaker Series. (Photo by Jay Premack/USPTO)We have promoted the incredible—yet mostly unheralded—stories of the people whose inventions have fundamentally changed the lives, and livelihoods, of millions of Americans. For example, we created the first-ever USPTO Speaker Series, bringing to USPTO employees and the public some of our nation’s greatest inventors and entrepreneurs. We also took the opportunity of promoting the grant of Patent 10 Million to raise the profile of our inventors and entrepreneurs, and we created the Journeys of Innovation series of online articles about innovators who have made a positive difference in the world. These people should be our most celebrated national figures, role models, and mentors for the next generation of Americans.We have worked to improve the dialogue surrounding IP in many other ways too. When I arrived at the USPTO, I noted that for too long, the words used to describe our patent system focused too heavily on its faults. Our IP system—born from the Constitution and steeped in our history—is a crown jewel, a gold standard. It must be defined by its goals, aspirations, and successes. As a result, we worked to create a new, pro-innovation narrative that focuses on the brilliance of inventors, the excitement of invention, and the incredible benefits they bring to society, while still ensuring patent and trademark examination of the highest quality.  Director Iancu and Deputy Director Laura Peter, shown with Ray Latypov, patent-holder and CEO of Virtusphere, (a device created for full body immersion into virtual reality) and joined by his son Alfred. Latypov’s invention was displayed at the USPTO on July 23, 2019 in conjunction with an event commemorating the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. (Photo by Jay Premack/USPTO)This pro-innovation, pro-IP dialogue is more important than ever, since we depend on inventors and entrepreneurs to solve mankind’s most vexing problems, including the current pandemic. These and creators of all kinds have always defined America, and, with a robust IP system, will continue to do so.   Director Iancu visits Camp Invention at Hyattsville Elementary School, Maryland, on June 26, 2019. (Photo by Jay Premack/USPTO)Through it all, the most amazing people I met these past few years are the inventors of the future—starting with kindergarteners making their first creations and excitingly explaining them to me. Jumping up and down, many would say, “Director, I want to be an inventor when I grow up!” Their unbridled enthusiasm assures me that America’s best days are yet to come. Thank you for the opportunity to serve this great country that I love.  __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________Highlights of USPTO Accomplishments (2018-2021)1. Strengthened the USPTO’s Patent and Trademark OperationsReduced patent pendency to below 15 months for a first Office action and below 24 months for final disposition, the lowest patent pendency since 2001.Reduced ex parte appeal pendency to 13 months, down from 30 months in 2015.Accomplished mandatory electronic filing for all trademark filings.Developed artificial intelligence and machine learning tools for patent and trademark application processing and examination. Achieved permanent congressional authorization of the TEAPP telework program, which will ensure strong hiring, retention, and cost savings.Achieved enactment of legislation to allow the USPTO to limit response periods for trademark Office actions in order to further reduce pendency.2. Increased the Certainty, Reliability, and Quality of IP RightsIssued Section 101 examiner guidance on patent eligibility, improving certainty of examination by 44%.Improved and added to patent examiners’ search tools, including launch of collaborative search pilot training and enhanced examiner search training.Established a new automated routing system for patent applications to help ensure incoming applications are best matched with examiners with relevant experience.Adjusted the performance appraisal plan for patent examiners to focus on improved search and examination quality.Reorganized senior patent management to broaden responsibility for operations and quality.Increased the rate of patent examiner interviews to an all-time high. Negotiated a revised policy with the U.S. Department of Justice and the National Institute of Standards and Technology on standard essential patents.Prepared and released multiple reports on public views on artificial intelligence and IP policy.Achieved the enactment of trademark legislation to strengthen trademark owners’ enforcement rights in court and to create additional tools for the USPTO to combat fraud on U.S. IP systems.Achieved the enactment of legislation to implement the Marrakesh Treaty, which enables greater access to copyrighted content by the blind, visually impaired, and otherwise print disabled.Multiple legislative achievements to balance and strengthen the copyright system.3. Changed the Dialogue on IP Created a public relations and media campaign celebrating the patent system, including the signing of patent 10 million.Held Patents for Humanity awards ceremonies for inventors who create solutions to humanitarian crises.Achieved enactment of legislation to enhance the Patents for Humanity program by allowing the award benefits to be transferable.Conducted numerous briefings for Members of Congress and their staff on the importance of patents to producing lifesaving technologies.Promoted the induction of 56 inventors into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.Created the USPTO Speakers Series to allow leaders in the IP system to share innovation success stories with Office employees and the public.Created the Journeys of Innovation series on the USPTO’s home page to celebrate inventors and their personal stories.4. Balanced AIA Review Proceedings at the Patent Trial and Appeal BoardPromulgated rules to change claim construction standard to match district courts, to allocate burdens with respect to motions to amend, to respond to all claims and grounds in a petition, and to weigh all evidence at the institution stage equally for both patent owners and petitioners.Created a Precedential Opinion Panel to address important issues before PTAB.Designated numerous decisions as precedential and issued guidance memoranda to improve consistency of PTAB proceedings.Developed institution factors to reduce multiple patent challenges.Created a Motion to Amend Pilot Program to improve amendment process.Established standard operating procedures to improve transparency.5. Bolstered the United States’ Leadership in IPExtended the U.S.’s lead as first in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global IP Index, and increased the U.S.’s rank in patents from twelfth (2018) to tied for second (2020) and in trademarks from fifth (2017) to tied for first (2020).Led effort to elect a WIPO Director General with strong support for intellectual property protection.Helped lead the Administration in adding new IP provisions as part of the USMCA.Achieved the first ever Parallel Patent Grant Agreement with Mexico and Patent Validation Agreement with Cambodia.Negotiated new work-sharing agreements with multiple foreign IP offices.Elevated the diplomatic rank of four USPTO IP Attachés.   Worked with international IP forums to assist innovators and stakeholders to createCOVID-19 solutions.6. Reduced Abuse of the IP SystemEstablished U.S. Counsel Rule to reduce fraudulent trademark filings.Worked with the National Crime Prevention Center to launch a nationwide public awareness campaign regarding the dangers of counterfeit products.Established a special task force to monitor and identify fraudulent trademark filing behaviors and to develop tools, including policies, to address them.Established a successful pilot program and then a permanent program to conduct random audits of post-registration maintenance and renewal documents to ensure the accuracy of the trademark register. 7. Strengthened the USPTO’s Fiscal HealthExtended USPTO fee-setting authority for an additional eight years, through the end of 2026.Restructured patent and trademark fees to ensure better cost recovery.Increased the reserve fund to ensure stability and continuity of USPTO operations.Maintained USPTO operations during temporary suspension of funding.Identified $1B in diverted fees in the U.S. Treasury.8. Expanded American InnovationSubmitted the SUCCESS Act report to Congress, which studied participation rates among women, minorities, and military veterans in patenting.Prepared and released well-received Progress and Potential Report and update, which studied participation rates among women in patenting.Launched a National Council of private, academic, non-profit, and public sector executive-level leaders to expand American innovation.Created the LEAP program at PTAB for training and developing new patent attorneys, and established a PTAB law clerk program.Supported independent inventors, small business concerns, and nonprofit organizations in filing patent applications and encouraged collaboration with the federal Government by expanding the opportunities to qualify for the small entity discount for inventions made during the course of federally-funded or federally-supported research.Enhanced the USPTO’s home page to allow first-time inventors and small businesses to easily access a map of all the resources the USPTO offers in their local areas.Launched an online platform available on the USPTO website that provides resources for inventors and practitioners to encourage greater participation in the patent system.Renamed Alexandria headquarters’ auditorium after Clara Barton, the first public space at the USPTO ever named after a woman.9. Ensured Continuous Operations During PandemicTransitioned seamlessly to all telework presence for employees during pandemic.Transitioned to all-virtual board hearings.Successfully sought enactment of statutory authority to provide relief at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.Issued extensions of time for patent and trademark filing and fee deadlines, due to COVID-19 issues, within three days of enactment of statutory CARES Act authority.Established fast-track examination programs for COVID-19-related medical treatments and devices.Established the Patents 4 Partnership program to facilitate licensing of COVID-19 innovations.Launched the first all-virtual, entry-level training program to on-board over 400 new examiners. 10. Modernized the USPTO IT SystemUpgraded the USPTO IT system with new, faster, more efficient, and secure servers.Established redundant systems to ensure continuity of operations in case of certain IT failures.Initiated transition to the cloud for essential services.Rebuilt the USPTO website for a more modern look and a more interactive interface.

  • Launch of the National Council for Expanding American Innovation
    by USPTO on January 15, 2021 at 2:28 pm

    Blog by Andrei Iancu, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO On September 14, the National Council for Expanding American Innovation had its inaugural meeting, virtually of course. The National Council includes respected leaders in the private and public sectors who are committed to fostering a more inclusive innovation ecosystem. The National Council is charged with helping develop a National Strategy to expand American innovation by tapping into the strength of our nation’s diversity, and increasing innovation opportunities for all Americans. I encourage you to learn more about the initiative by reading the excellent remarks made by the council members or by watching the recording of the event.The National Council was born out of a report we transmitted to Congress in 2019 in response to the Study of Underrepresented Classes Chasing Engineering and Science Success (SUCCESS) Act of 2018. This report came on the heels of one of the most comprehensive studies on women inventors that was published by the USPTO in February 2019 titled “Progress and Potential: A profile of Women Inventors on U.S. Patents.” In that study, we found that only about 12 percent of inventors named on U.S. patents are women. The 2020 update to our Progress and Potential study reviewed an additional nearly one million issued patents and three years of new data and found that more women are entering and staying active in the patent system than ever before. Despite this progress, however, the gap is still wide, and there is still much that remains to be done to close it.One of the foremost priorities for the National Council is to help the USPTO develop a long-term comprehensive plan aimed at expanding participation in America’s innovation ecosystem among women, minorities, other underrepresented groups, and Americans across the geography of the United States. It is imperative that we substantially broaden participation in the technologies that are driving a new industrial revolution.This national strategy will encourage and equip Americans across all demographics and across the United States to become innovators and ensure they have equal opportunities to succeed. It will include innovation and intellectual property education at all levels—from kindergarten to graduate school—and emphasize employment development, access to capital, and product commercialization.Our plan will identify specifically where along a potential inventor’s path we come up short and specifically how we can address it, and will also include metrics against which results can be measured over time. Mere rhetoric will no longer suffice. To move the needle, we must act with specificity, and we must insist on measurable results. Expanding participation in the innovation ecosystem is one of our nation’s best and most tangible opportunities for enhancing economic growth and improving the standard of living and quality of life for every American. Industry, government, academia, and professional groups must work together to ensure that all Americans have the opportunity to innovate, start new companies, succeed in established companies, and achieve the American Dream. This will help unleash the next technological revolution, drive economic growth, and solidify America’s competitive edge as a global innovation leader. In the upcoming months, the USPTO will have numerous engagement activities that focus on the pursuit of expanding American innovation. We have already enjoyed a number of speaking engagements at universities around the country discussing with students and faculty the importance of diversity in the innovation and intellectual property ecosystems. And in order to consider everyone’s suggestions as part of this strategy, a request for comments was published in the Federal Register asking the public to provide input to assist in the development of the national strategy. Comments can be submitted until February 8, 2021.To more broadly engage with the public on our Expanding American Innovation initiative, we also kicked off a series of virtual “innovation chats.” The first one is a recently-recorded conversation between myself and Lisa Jorgenson, the newly appointed Deputy Director General for Patents and Technology at the World Intellectual Property Organization. You can view the video here. For more information about the National Council for Expanding American Innovation, please contact NCEAI@uspto.gov, and join the conversation on social media using #ExpandingAmericanInnovation.

  • A year to remember
    by USPTO on December 31, 2020 at 6:03 pm

    Blog by Andrei Iancu, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO“Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come, whispering ‘it will be happier’.”― Alfred Lord TennysonThe end of a year is always a time for reflection on what we’ve accomplished and where we want to go. In 2020, the world faced a pandemic unlike anything we have seen in a century. Yet, as they always do during difficult times, inventors and entrepreneurs rose to the challenge. Consider, for example, the multiple COVID-19 vaccines that were developed in less than a year, but are based on decades of research and countless inventions in dozens of scientific and technology disciplines. The importance of our nation’s consistent support of such creativity over time is more evident now than ever. As one COVID-19 vaccine manufacturer noted in its press release: “Intellectual property rights play an important role in encouraging investment in research.”There are many other innovations that helped confront the global health crisis. Some companies built ventilators, masks, testing equipment, and other life-saving necessities at a previously unimaginable scale. Many others facilitated a quick and massive shift to telework. The advanced networks making this possible are keeping large segments of the U.S. economy operational. They have reduced exposure to the virus and will permanently change how we work, shop, and live.The USPTO has been instrumental in spurring these innovations. When we do our job right, individuals and companies are motivated to keep inventing, secure in the knowledge that our great nation will protect their IP. And when it mattered most over this tumultuous year, we certainly did our job right. Most importantly, we remained open for business and we worked harder than ever before. Because we have been a national leader in telework, we were well positioned to transition the USPTO’s 13,000-plus employees to full-time telework. Still, this required herculean efforts on the part of everyone, but especially our IT professionals who continue to make it possible. As a result of their amazing efforts, our employees’ productivity did not suffer. In fact, we are examining patent applications faster than last year.We also implemented a number of programs to directly assist our stakeholders. We recognized that small companies and individual inventors play a critical role inventing treatments and cures for COVID-19, and we were vigilant in ensuring that they received the support they needed. To that end, we instituted the COVID-19 Fast Track Program, which enabled small- and micro-entities to accelerate prosecution of COVID-19-related patent applications, at no charge. We also launched Patents 4 Partnerships, which provided a repository of COVID-19-related patents and patent applications, and created a voluntary platform for connecting patentees and potential licensees.More generally, we instituted a number of temporary changes providing the greater innovation community with more flexibility in meeting filing deadlines and making fee payments. Within days of Congress passing the CARES Act, we waived many patent and trademark-related deadlines for situations where an applicant could not meet a deadline or make a payment because of the pandemic. We lifted all original signature requirements; and we moved to an entirely electronic filing system, including even for plant patents. And, notwithstanding the difficulties caused by COVID-19, we continued to implement broader improvements to the American innovation ecosystem. For example, we improved our Section 101 analysis,  increasing the certainty of examination by a remarkable 44%. And we restored balance to post-grant proceedings at the PTAB through a series of carefully-crafted reforms. We initiated a major national effort to broaden participation in the IP community by launching an Expanding Innovation hub, and starting the National Council for Expanding American Innovation. And we launched the Legal Experience and Advancement Program (LEAP) to help develop the next generation of attorneys. We saw the new – and very significant – Trademark Modernization Act signed into law. And we helped more trademark applicants than ever before, with the Trademark Assistance Center answering 128,370 calls, a 10% increase over the prior year.This year, during the pandemic, we also greatly increased our collaboration with other countries to the benefit of our stakeholders. We entered new bilateral agreements, such as a parallel patent grant agreement with Mexico; a patent validation agreement with Cambodia; and a new memorandum of understanding with India. And on the multilateral stage, we worked closely with many other nations to create a broad coalition of countries to elect new leaders at WIPO who champion the importance of, and respect for, intellectual property.  We also elevated the rank of our IP attachés at several major embassies, in a clear signal that the United States takes very seriously the protection and enforcement of IP rights around the world.These are just some of the highlights. You can find others on our website and news releases. I am so very proud to have led the dedicated employees of the USPTO who stepped up to the challenges of a most remarkable year to help keep America moving forward with critical innovations that are now saving lives across the globe.And the best is yet to come. Our intellectual property system — born from our Constitution and steeped in our history — is strong and it supports our nation’s innovators who are more creative and more capable than they have ever been. “Hope smiles” on this great country, and I am convinced that its future is bright indeed. On behalf of our entire nationwide USPTO workforce, I wish for you a safe, healthy, and prosperous 2021. For, as Alfred Lord Tennyson ventured, “It will be happier.”

  • Interview practice and its importance at the USPTO
    by USPTO on December 23, 2020 at 2:12 pm

    First Action Interview Pilot Program to end on January 15, 2021Blog by Andrei Iancu, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO, and Drew Hirshfeld, Commissioner for PatentsVirtual interview between a patent attorney and a patent examinerWhether initiated by the applicant or the examiner, interviews during patent prosecution provide an opportunity for the participants to discuss the merits of an application and gain insights that are sometimes not apparent through written exchanges. Examiners are available for telephonic or video interviews, with video interviews gaining in popularity. The USPTO’s improved information technology infrastructure is now permitting high-quality virtual interactions that far exceed past experiences. Interviews can lead to a better understanding of an applicant’s invention, bridge gaps between the examiner and applicant, and serve as an effective mechanism for facilitating agreement and furthering prosecution. Recent data shows that applications with at least one interview had an allowance rate 10% higher than those with no interview, demonstrating that interviews are an effective tool to place claims in a condition for allowance. This statistic is especially meaningful, as interviews most commonly occur when rejections or objections are pending and the path to allowability is not immediately clear.   As a result of the USPTO’s efforts to promote interview practice at all stages of prosecution, the percentage of applications having at least one interview is now at an all-time high, having risen from 19.6% at the beginning of FY 2010 to 38.1% at the end of FY 2020. To maintain steady progress in this area, we are constantly monitoring and refining our programs. Over time, the USPTO has introduced a number of successful enhancements to facilitate interviews, including: Automated Interview Requests, a convenient web-based method to request an interview; Technology Center Interview Specialists, subject matter experts on interview practice and policy; video conference interviews, allowing an examiner and an applicant to interact in real time from anywhere using video and document sharing; and public interview rooms, available at each USPTO office (when our physical premises reopen).  On the other hand, the Full First Action Interview Pilot Program has not been as successful. The program couples an interview before a first office action on the merits at the request of the applicant with modified prosecution procedures. During the 12 years of the program’s existence, it has been used for only approximately 0.2% of eligible applications. Due to its limited use, the program will be discontinued effective January 15, 2021. This will allow us to concentrate on more effective actions. We look forward to continued engagement with our stakeholders not only through general interview practice, but also through Patents Customer Partnership Meetings, the Patent Examiner Technical Training Program, and other programs designed to provide unique and invaluable opportunities to communicate, collaborate, and cooperate. If you have ideas to improve our interview process, please contact us at ExaminerInterviewPractice@USPTO.gov.

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  • What’ll He Think Of Next? — See Also
    by Joe Patrice on February 27, 2021 at 12:17 am

    For Rivendell!: Paul Davis continues to impress, stepping away from Tolkien to propose a new government where Donald Trump just gets to veto any government action. Honestly, this motion reads like something Gollum would write, except replace all references to his precious with Trump or "tacit public acceptance of transphobia." This Is Why We Have Black History Month: There's rightly a lot of backlash against performative politics. Having a month set aside for corporate brands to repackage themselves with kente cloth before going back to systematically denying access to meaningful equality can be dispiriting. But this is why we have to keep having these observances -- because lawyers unwittingly reveal exactly how far we really are from fixing the problem. Flag That, ExamSoft: What will the proctoring algorithm do with someone peeing into a bottle during the test? We're about to find out! But seriously, this is no way to manage a profession. We also learned of an applicant who got her period during the exam and is confident that she was flagged for cheating as she squirmed from cramps. Nothing about this test is acceptable. Oh, Pardon Me: Steve Bannon thought getting a pardon would put an end to the federal charges against him. But the government points out that just because he can't be punished doesn't mean he isn't still in the matter.

  • Attorneys Spend An Awful Long Time At This Biglaw Firms
    by Kathryn Rubino on February 26, 2021 at 11:44 pm

    That's a long time at one firm.

  • Stat Of The Week: The Pandemic Slammed Solos
    by Jeremy Barker on February 26, 2021 at 11:18 pm

    But technology softened the blow for some.

  • Embrace Your Legal Tech Journey
    by Olga V. Mack on February 26, 2021 at 10:46 pm

    Notes to my (legal) self.

  • Fifth Circuit Says Tasing A Person Soaked In Gasoline And Setting Them On Fire Isn’t An Unreasonable Use Of Force
    by Techdirt on February 26, 2021 at 10:17 pm

    Where does 'qualified' end?

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