USPTO Requesting More Timely and Useful Information From Patent Applicants

Posted by J Matthew Buchanan at July 11, 2006 01:53 PM

Brigid Quinn
(571) 272-8400 or

July 10 , 2006

USPTO Requesting More Timely and Useful Information From Patent Applicants
Proposal Would Improve Patent Quality and May Bring Quicker Decisions

As part of its ongoing efforts to promote investment in innovation and spur economic growth, the Department of Commerce's U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) today announced a new proposal that would streamline and improve the patent application review process. The new proposal would encourage patent applicants to provide the USPTO the most relevant information related to their inventions in the early stages of the review process.

“Clear disclosure upfront by applicants helps examiners more quickly make the correct decision about whether a claimed invention deserves a patent,” noted Jon Dudas, under secretary of commerce for intellectual property. “Clear, forthright disclosure benefits all, because the public – including potential investors - wants to know that a patent application has been thoroughly reviewed, applying the best data available.”

Patent applicants and their attorneys or agents currently have an obligation to inform USPTO's patent examiners of all information known to be material to patentability of the invention claimed by the applicant. Applicants list information for the examiner to consider in a communication called an Information Disclosure Statement (IDS).

The USPTO has observed that applicants sometimes provide information in a way that hinders rather than helps timely, accurate examination. For example, some applicants send a very large number of documents to the examiner, without identifying why they have been submitted, thus tending to obscure the most relevant information. Additionally, some applicants send very long documents without pointing out what part of the document makes it relevant to the claimed invention. Sometimes applicants delay sending key information to the examiner. These practices make it extremely difficult for the patent examiner to find and properly consider the most relevant information in the limited time available for examination of an application.

The USPTO's proposed rule change is designed to encourage early submission of relevant information, and to discourage submission of information that is unimportant or does not add something new for the examiner to consider. With the proposed changes, patent examiners would not have to review documents that do not directly relate to the claimed invention, or that duplicate other information already submitted.

Proposal Specifics

To encourage submission of relevant information to the patent examiner promptly and in a way that brings the most important information to the attention of the examiner, the USPTO is proposing to eliminate all fees associated with submitting an IDS. Under the proposal, applicants in most cases would be permitted to send up to twenty documents without additional explanation, if these documents are provided to the USPTO before the examiner sends a first communication to the applicant.

Were an applicant to submit more than twenty documents, or wait until after the patent examiner's first communication has been sent, the applicant would face increasing requirements to provide more detailed information about the documents and how they relate to the claimed invention. Applicants could be required to point out what part of the document makes it important, to identify specific claims to which a document applies, to clarify how a document adds new information not already considered by the examiner, or explain why the claims are patentable in light of the information provided.

Under the proposal, applicants would still be able to send in as many documents as they choose. However, there would be more stringent requirements for those choosing to submit large numbers of documents or very long documents.

For further information see: .

Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0) trackback

Related Articles:
Contact Information for USPTO Customers Affected by Hurricane Katrina
Comments on Changes to Implement the Patent Search Fee Refund Provisions of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2005 (August 2005)
Reciprocal Access to and Usage of Documents in Application Files of Trilateral Offices [signed 29August2005]


You can ping this entry by using .


Leave a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)

Your Name
Your E-mail
Your Website URL
Remember personal info?