Improving Patent Quality: Six Topics Selected for Case Studies at PPAC

Author: David C. Seastrunk
Editor: Adriana L. Burgy

On May 5, the United States Patent and Trademark Office and the Patent Public Advisory Committee (PPAC) held their quarterly meeting, where they revealed six topics recently selected to undergo case studies as part of the Enhanced Patent Quality Initiative (EQPI). During a case study, the USPTO reviews a single, specific, quality-related issue. This review will be performed by the USPTO itself, as opposed to standard reviews completed by the Office of Patent Quality Assurance (OPQA).

Stakeholders are clearly concerned with the USPTO’s recent usage of 35 U.S.C. § 101 in rejections, as of the six topics selected, three were directed squarely at § 101:

(1) compliance of rejections with § 101 Official Guidance,

(2) consistency of application of § 101 across Art Units and Technology Centers, and

(3) use of compact prosecution when making § 101 rejections.

The other topics selected were:

(4) correctness and clarity of motivation statements in making § 103 rejections,

(5) enforcement of § 112(a) written description in continuing applications, and

(6) consistent treatment of claims after May 2014 with respect to § 112(f).

To gather these topics, the USPTO invited stakeholders to submit their own ideas on patent quality-related issues. Topic submissions were sought from stakeholders in order to draw on their experience, with the goal of using the study’s results to better understand the USPTO’s own internal work products and processes. In doing so, the USPTO hopes this will identify quality issues, examples of examination best practices, and areas where further training of examiners may be needed. To find out more information on topic submission, or to submit your own topic for future consideration, see the USPTO’s website.


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