Lori Cuomo 2013-04-04 07:13:09
The Other Side Lori Cuomo is admitted to practice law in the District of Columbia and is a registered patent attorney with the United States Patent Office. Her practice focuses on patent prosecution, inter partes reexamination, preparation of opinions relating to non-infringement and invalidity of patents, and client counseling. So now you have retained the services of a registered patent attorney or patent agent to prepare and prosecute your patent application. The application is often electronically filed at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). What happens on the other side, i.e. in the USPTO, is often a mystery. The USPTO determines the patentability of inventions in the United States. The determination is made by highly trained scientists and engineers (Patent examiners), or examiners for short. The examiner analyzes the subject matter of the patent application and the pertinent prior art, such as patents and other published technical materials, and determines whether the claimed invention is patentable. The examiner locates the pertinent prior art by performing a search. In the past, examiners searched through paper files, or “shoes”, of technical documents, mostly patents, classified by subject matter. Now all examiners use searchable electronic databases including patent full text and full page image databases. The examiner applies procedural and substantive law and grants or rejects the claims of the application. The Manual of Patent Examining Procedure (MPEP) is a reference used by examiners on the practices and procedures related to prosecution of patent applications before the USPTO. It contains instructions to examiners on the procedures which the examiner is to follow in the examination of a patent application. Generally, examiners specialize in one of the engineering or scientific fields, including electrical and electronics engineering, mechanical engineering, chemical engineering, chemistry, physics, biology, microbiology, and biotechnology. Examiners receive both on the job training and formal training at the Patent and Trademark Office Academy (Patent Academy). Patent Academy is designed to teach the basics of patent examining practice and procedure. The Patent Academy also teaches advanced patent examining functions and legal concepts. The examiner continually receives training from his or her supervisory patent examiner (SPE). In the past, the application would be assigned to an examiner with an office on the Alexandria campus of the USPTO. Now upwards of 70% of examiners work at least one day a week from home. Interestingly enough, 11% of examiners live more than 50 miles from the Alexandria campus and reside in forty two states. The USPTO is a leader in teleworking, or hoteling as it is called at the USPTO. Hoteling examiners are not assigned a personal office but they may reserve an office to use when they come in to the Alexandria campus. The USPTO configures remote laptops and the examiner works from their home office with all of the same tools the examiner has on the Alexandria campus and examines your patent application. Examiners participating in the hoteling program need to be available for examiner interviews during regular work hours, both in person and telephone. Examiner interviews are conducted when either the patent practitioner or the examiner wish to discuss the invention over the telephone or in person. Examiner interviews are often used to advance prosecution and to identify patentable subject matter in the invention. The USPTO increased the total number of interview hours in fiscal year 2011 to 104,692 hours. Interview hours include time spent working with patent applicants to better understand their inventions and resolve issues (Statement of David Kappos Before The Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies, Committee of Appropriations US House of Representatives ”USPTO FY2013 Budget Request, March 1, 2012”). Under the Nationwide Workforce Initiative the USPTO has already opened a satellite office in Detroit with plans to open several more satellite offices in the near future. The USPTO plans to expand the Nationwide Workforce initiative to two new satellite office locations in fiscal year 2013, so your application may be examined in Alexandria Virginia; Detroit, Michigan; or a home office in Nome, Alaska.
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