USPTO to speed processes, lighten workload with e-system

2007-2012 Strategic Plan

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Editor's note: This story was updated at 3:20 p.m. March 30, 2007. Please go to Corrections & Clarifications to see what has changed.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office wants to lighten workloads on patent examiners and expedite the patent process by making the popular Electronic Filing System (EFS) more automated.

The office’s goals were published this week in its 2007-2012 Strategic Plan. USPTO plans to improve on EFS by making it more secure and accurate, according to the five-year plan.

The Web-based filing system was originally created in 2000 and used a separately installed program to send applications to reviewers in Extensible Markup Language format. The current iteration of the system — which launched in March 2006 and last updated in June 2006 — is accessed through Web browsers and allows applicants to file their paperwork as PDFs.

Planned improvements include installing a text-based file management system to EFS, improving search functions and introducing management systems to predict when filings would come in and when examiners would be finished with them. They also hope to allow applicants to modify their application data.

“We’re making it more automated, that’s definitely the direction we’re going in,” said USPTO spokesperson Brigid Quinn. “We have to continue to ensure that that grows.”

EFS already helped reduce workload and speed the application process. Currently, around 50 percent of patent applications are fielded electronically, up from only 2 percent before the new system’s launch last year.

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