During the USPTO’s September 13th Patent Quality Chat, the Office provided additional details regarding its announcement that it is seeking to implement a program that will alleviate applicants’ burden in bringing references cited in related applications to the attention of the Office. As we previously reported, the USPTO is exploring how to best utilize available electronic resources to automatically provide examiners with access to information (e.g., prior art, search reports, etc.) from related applications with the aim of increasing patent examination quality and efficiency. Related applications might include, for example, domestic child or parent applications and foreign counterparts.
In particular, the USPTO highlighted the potential use of Global Dossier, which currently permits the sharing of filewrapper information across the world’s five largest patent offices (USPTO, JPO, EPO, SIPO, and KPO) to the public and to examiners in each office. The Office suggested, for example, that search and examination information created by a foreign office could automatically be imported into a pending related U.S. application, giving Examiners early and immediate access to potentially relevant prior art. Although this initiative is still in the exploratory phase, if implemented, such a program could represent a significant reduction in applicant burden and expense. When asked whether this proposed system could extend to domestic applications being prosecuted in parallel by the same applicant, though the applications are not within the same family, the USPTO stated that was also a topic for consideration.
The USPTO also stated that it is considering removing the listing of “References Cited” from the front page of patents. This information can easily be accessed electronically, noted Deputy Commissioners Powell and Bahr, and removing it, perhaps along with other front page information, would streamline the issuance process.