USPTO Director-Nominee Lee Calls For ‘Responsible Stewardship’ Of Patent System23/10/2014 by William New, Intellectual Property Watch 1 CommentShare this Story:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Much of our best content is available only to IP Watch subscribers. We are a non-profit independent news service, and subscribing to our service helps support our goals of bringing more transparency to global IP and innovation policies. To access all of our content, please subscribe now.In perhaps her first big speech since being nominated by President Obama to head the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), Michelle Lee today told an industry meeting today to use the patent system responsibly and with balance. The agency is embarking on a new global effort to streamline processes and improve quality. And for the first time in a long time, she said, USPTO has the financial resources to do it. “[I]t’s incumbent that we all work together as responsible stewards of our IP system,” Lee told the annual meeting of the American IP Law Association, taking place on 23-24 October in Washington, DC. “We must ensure its continued role in promoting the innovation that defines our society, and our economy.”She highlighted four priorities of the USPTO, with a particular emphasis on quality. The areas are quality, IP protection, operational excellence, and transparency with public engagement. She gave further details on each.New Patent Quality InitiativeLee mentioned a new initiative of the office to raise patent quality. “We will roll out the initial results of this initiative early next year. Let me give you a brief preview today,” she said. “This new initiative is built around three core elements: excellence in prosecution products and services; excellence in customer service; and excellence in measurement of quality.”She said teams of employees from across the agency are being put together to “take a hard look at patent quality from every angle.”She described the effort in this way:“We’re considering all options – big and small – before examination, during examination, and after examination. This includes upgrading IT tools for our examiners, such as fully implementing our Patents End-to-End system and expanding international work-sharing IT capabilities.It includes increasing resources to improve patent examination quality, for example, by expanding focused reviews of examiner work products to measure the impact of training; improving the effectiveness of interviews between examiners and applicants; and providing training to all of our employees that interact with customers.It also includes comparing best practices and collaborating to improve quality with our foreign counterpart offices; more on that in a bit.And it includes using big data techniques to measure and improve every stage of the examination process. What do I mean by big data? … [W]e collect a lot of data during the examination process, but we haven’t had the resources to fully capitalize on its potential.Now we do.We can not only analyze data effectively, but apply lessons learned throughout the examination process.”She added that the office will next year hold discussions on quality with stakeholders.“[W]hen measuring results we need to better understand what quality means to our customers,” she said. “That’s why we will start that conversation with you early next year through a series of discussions across the country, explaining how we currently measure quality and seeking your input on how we can do better.”Global FocusLee said the US patent system is widely seen as the “gold standard,” noting that many countries supported this view during recent meetings she had in Geneva around the annual World Intellectual Property Organization General Assemblies.“In those meetings I discussed with peers from IP offices around the world our desire to move forward on operational coordination to streamline procedures and reduce costs for our innovators who are seeking foreign IP protection,” she said.She mentioned a significant agreement with the Korean IP Office she struck while in Geneva (IPW, US Policy, 26 September 2014). In her speech, she did not mention the term “harmonisation” of patent systems, which was the subject of disagreement at WIPO several years ago.Patent Reform Next YearLee also called on Congress to next year address reform of the patent system, and once again, called on all sides to bend a little for the greater cause.“We hope to see patent reform move forward on the congressional agenda next year. All of us, as stewards of our IP system, have an obligation to engage in that process responsibly, thoughtfully, and with the goal of ensuring balance – regardless of your monetary self-interest on an issue.So we all have roles to play as responsible stewards of our IP system. Congress. Courts. Agency leaders. And advocates like you.”The full speech is available here. Share this Story:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)RelatedWilliam New may be reached at email@example.com."USPTO Director-Nominee Lee Calls For ‘Responsible Stewardship’ Of Patent System" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.