The US and UK governments have highlighted the progress made on a joint action plan launched in March 2010 to combat the problem of patent backlogs and their effects on the economy and job creation.
The announcement was made today in London by David Kappos, US Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), and Baroness Wilcox, UK Intellectual Property Minister.
The action plan is a follow-up to the study commissioned by the UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) and released in March 2010 entitled ‘Economic Study on Patent Backlogs and a System of Mutual Recognition, ‘which examined the economic impact of delays in processing patents. The study found that patent office delays stifle innovative competitiveness, drag down R&D investments, and minimise incentives to create, especially for inventions in the hi-tech sectors.
The USPTO-UKIPO action plan is designed to allow a patent examiner in one office to reuse work done by an examiner in the other office on a corresponding application to the maximum extent possible in order to reduce duplication of work, speed up processing and improve quality in both offices.
USPTO Director David Kappos said, “The joint action plan highlights that while 21st century patent challenges are global in scope, so too are their solutions. Work sharing is a powerful tool that equips examiners to extract value from our skilled colleagues in other patent offices. By reducing redundant workloads and chipping away at the backlog, we can collaborate to unleash millions of jobs lying in wait and breathe life into our economies.”
Baroness Wilcox said, “Patent backlogs make it very hard for our innovators and entrepreneurs to obtain the patent rights so essential for innovative high-tech businesses to grow. This can cost the global economy billions each year. At a time when supporting global economic growth is more important than ever, reducing patent backlogs is critical. This is why I’m delighted to see the co-operation between the USPTO and the IPO to help tackle this important issue.”
Highlights of progress made over the past year include:
IT system enhancements in both offices that will provide examiners with better electronic access to each other’s search and examination reports;
Examination process improvements that provide for systematic reuse of search and examination reports in each office, including developing resource manuals and instruction handbooks for examiners and enhancing common understanding of practice in each office; and
Baselining of efficiency and quality metrics for analysing the impact of reuse.
The offices will continue to collect and analyse data from the project to identify areas for further cooperation and improvement of the scheme, for a more robust 21st Century international patent architecture.