Enhanced Quality Initiatives Continue in 2017
So far during 2017, POPA has been discussing with the Agency two major initiatives carried over from 2016. These include the Enhance Patent Quality Initiative (EPQI) and the Examination Time Analysis (ETA).
It is too early to report on the direction ETA will take. Initial efforts included the gathering of data both internally and externally. Thank you to all of you who took part in the internal ETA survey. As a result of your participation, the Agency collected almost 7000 internal surveys including almost 900 comments. POPA and management are working on analyzing all of this input and we will report to you on meaningful results from that survey when the results are available.
Several items are being discussed with respect to EPQI. Some, such as the Clarity of the Record Pilot are follow-ups to earlier pilots conducted last year. While the new pilot is early in its development, the new pilot will expand to more employees, explore successes from the earlier pilot in more detail and look at a limited number of new areas.
In addition to the new Clarity of the Record Pilot, a new program based upon the concept of getting the best art to both the examiner and applicant prior to first action is being explored. This pilot will also likely include aspects of the First Action Interview Program, including an interview prior to search and a possible second interview between search and the first action on the merits.
POPA's concerns are that future pilots properly compensate examiners for participation, including for time and docket management impacts, and identify all additional burdens placed upon examiners. Where possible, we prefer that examiners be permitted to opt out of participation. We also are concerned that we have access to the results gathered by these pilots so that we can use them to fully discuss proposed future changes to the examination process and their impacts with management.
Future articles in this area will discuss :Quality Tracker and OPQA returns, Post Grant Outcomes and P3 EPQI Pilot results, and the several different programs under development to put prior art and other documentation into the file wrapper prior to FAOM.