Posted by Horacio Gutierrez Corporate Vice President
and Deputy General Counsel
For more than a decade, the U.S.
Patent and Trademark Office has been criticized for long delays in the
processing of patent applications and for issues around patent quality.
Both can have negative impacts on innovation, as the USPTO recognized in
a recent White
To address these problems, USPTO has done some
innovating of its own. Director David Kappos announced a proposal
earlier this month that grapples with the backlog issue and offers an
opportunity for applicants to work with the Office to assign priority to
pending applications. The “Three-Track” proposal would enable
applicants, when they file, to request expedited review under Track I or
delayed examination under Track III. Applicants that do not request
either option would have their applications processed under current
procedures (Track II). We applaud the creative thinking and leadership
behind the Three Track initiative. If carefully implemented, it will
have real benefits for innovators of all sizes, from
companies like Microsoft to small and medium-sized enterprises, as
well as individual inventors and universities.
Three Track initiative aims to provide applicants with the type of
examination they need, while also enabling USPTO to improve its
efficiency by better assigning resources and reusing search and
examination work done by other patent offices. USPTO’s intention to
require mandatory publication is also the right way to go.
we believe the simplified requirements for Track I will be more useful
than the Office’s current and relatively little-used expedited
processing procedure. And we applaud the approach of Track III for its
potential to build on commonsense work-sharing practices, including the
Patent Prosecution Highway and projects under the IP5 initiative.
will hold a public meeting on the proposal at its Alexandria, Virginia,
headquarters on July 20 and has invited the public to submit written
comments by August 20. Microsoft looks forward to participating in the
public meeting and the comment process and to working with the Office as
this important proposal moves forward.