Post by Jill Link
USPTO Director Michelle Lee nominated Russ Slifer as Deputy Director of the USPTO. Slifer previously served as the Regional Director for the Denver Satelite Office of the USPTO. He is a patent attorney with over 20 years experience, including 8 years as the Chief Patent Counsel for Micron Technology. Slifer was appointed by Secretary of Commerce for this political appointment, along with Director Lee who was also recently appointed and sworn in earlier this month (March 2015). With both Director and Deputy Director in place the USPTO is now fully staffed again.
The Director has issued a focus for their remaining terms - Patent Quality Initiatives. For example, Deputy Director's first official day on the job was spent with the Director hosting the USPTO Patent Quality Summit. The Summit follows a Federal Register Notice setting forth various proposals for focus on patent quality. The Federal Register listed the following:
1. USPTO proposes a mechanism for an applicant to request the Office of Patent Quality Assurance to review an examiner’s Office action during prosecution.
2. USPTO is seeking input on whether to conduct automated pre-examination searches for all applications, and if so, what tools might be used to complete those searches.
3. USPTO is seeking the public’s assistance in identifying ways to enhance the clarity and completeness of the official record during prosecution of an application.
4. USPTO is considering ways to measure and enhance the effectiveness of examiner training, and how best to improve quality metrics.
5. The USPTO is seeking input to help determine whether the current compact prosecution model should be modified. In particular, is seeking ideas for proactive alternatives to Requests for Continued Examination filings and appeals to the Patent Trial and Appeal Board.
6. The USPTO is considering the viability of enabling applicants to have in-person interviews with examiners, regardless of the examiner’s duty station.
Filewrapper will keep you posted on further updates of these and other patent quality initiatives.