The PTO sent the following email this morning to its employees:
Joint Union and Management Task Force Begins Work of Addressing the Patent Examiner Count System
On Tuesday, August 25, a task force comprised of four members from the Patent Office Professional Association (POPA) and four from Patents Management met to begin work on re-engineering the patent examiner count system. The day-long session was kicked off by USPTO Director David Kappos who emphasized the importance of their work, stating, “Creating an examiner count system which gives examiners the time they need to do their job properly and which incentivizes compact prosecution, including the use of interviews, is currently job number one for the agency.” Director Kappos committed his support and involvement to the work of the task force and will be holding regular check point meetings with them.
The task force, led by Deputy Commissioner for Patent Operations Peggy Focarino and POPA President Robert Budens, has been given a deadline of October 1 to recommend a solution which moves the Agency significantly forward towards a new examiner count system which is properly aligned to achieve both efficient and high-quality examination.
Plenty of reasons for optimism here, but a fair amount of trepidation, too. Lets hope they come up with something that is both workable for the examining corps and also helps address the pendency and quality issues.