Signal, Garcia Consulting land $30M award to simplify patent process

The Patent and Trademark Office awarded last month a $30 million contract to Signal Corp. and Garcia Consulting Inc. to provide information research and system development support for patent examiners.

Signal and Garcia Consulting will compete for task orders under the Information Research and Facilities Services (IRFS) contract a five-year pact that will assist patent examiners in conducting searches on a wide variety of topics using on-line and hard-copy information resources.

PTO officials are looking to the IRFS to lessen the strain on the patent examining process. Advances in automation and on-line services and an increase in emerging technologies such as biotechnology and computer software have complicated the examination process changing the types of skills patent examiners need to fulfill their jobs.

The IRFS which will support PTO's Scientific and Technical Information Center should help PTO examine and issue patents in a more timely and efficient way.

Field Specialists

"This is not your run-of-the-mill contract in terms of the kind of specialists it requires " said David Peterson corporate vice president of Signal. He said the company is providing specialists in chemical mechanical and electrical fields among others who will develop appropriate search strategies based on what information patent examiners need.

Carol Wood vice president of information services at Garcia Consulting said search assistant positions require a master's degree in library science a technical degree and "exceptional on-line search capabilities." Assistants will be required to be familiar with more than 900 commercial databases she said.

Garcia Consulting has provided search assistance to PTO under a sole-source contract awarded about two years ago. The IRFS replaces that contract and various other task orders.

Signal and Garcia Consulting also will train examiners on how to use new search tools techniques and on-line services more efficiently.

The contract also covers information resources analysis to help identify appropriate sources of information on patent applications as well as library support services and facilities management operations for PTO libraries and information dissemination services.

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