High-quality patents enable certainty and clarity of rights, which fuels innovation and reduces needless litigation. The USPTO established the Enhanced Patent Quality Initiative (EPQI) issues high-quality patents. And, while the EQPI Program focuses on internal operations and external interfaces from the USPTO’s perspective, there are lessons in the program for both sides of the patent prosecution transaction.
This piece introduces the concepts of patent quality from the practitioner’s perspective, as well as provides more information about the USPTO’s EQPI program of importance to practitioners.
For the practitioner’s perspective, watch the following YouTube.com video from IPWatchDog.com:
For more on the USPTO EQPI Program, visit the Enhanced Patent Quality Initiative webpage, by clicking here.
To advance the EQPI Initiative, the USPTO created 12 EPQI programs based on feedback from internal and external stakeholders. These programs fall into four areas of concertation for enhancing overall patent quality.
(1) Search and training enhancement programs
- Automated Pre-Examination Search Pilot – Providing relevant prior art through an automated pre-examination search to an examiner for review before the examiner begins examination and conducts a manual search in the application
- Scientific and Technical Information Center (STIC) Awareness Campaign – Raising examiners’ awareness of available search tools and resources to find better prior art in an application
- Clarity of the Record Training – Educating examiners on the latest legal developments and effective ways to convey their positions and reasons to applicants for purposes of improving the clarity of the prosecution record
(2) Prosecution enhancement programs
- Clarity of the Record Pilot – Identifying and developing best practices for examiners to enhance the clarity of the prosecution record
- Interview Specialist – Providing a point of contact to facilitate applicant-examiner interviews by serving as a resource on interview policy and assisting examiners and applicants with interview logistics
- Post-Prosecution Pilot (P3) – Combining effective features from the Pre-appeal Pilot and After-Final Consideration Pilot 2.0 programs into a single program with additional requested features.
- Reevaluation of Quick Path Information Disclosure Statement (QPIDS) – Investigating improvements to the existing program, which provides for submission of an IDS after payment of the issue fee without an RCE, to make the process more efficient.
(3) Post-examination enhancement programs
- Design Patent Publication Quality – Improving the quality of images in published design patents
- Post Grant Outcomes – Identifying prior art raised in post grant proceedings that is relevant to related cases undergoing prosecution and simplifying access to this prior art for examiners in the related cases
(4) Evaluation enhancement programs
- Clarity and Correctness Data Capture (Master Review Form or MRF) – Developing and implementing a new agency-wide consistent and transparent process and form to capture minable data about the correctness and clarity of examiners’ work products
- Quality Metrics – Developing and implementing new measures for understanding, evaluating, and reporting the correctness and clarity of examiners’ work products
- Topic Submission for Case Studies – Using stakeholder suggestions to identify new topics for case studies
- Patent Quality Pillars of the EPQI
- EPQI EVENTS and PRESENTATIONS (archive) – for Upcoming Events, see the Updates section
- RESOURCES for enhanced learning about patent quality – links to Interview Practice, 101 Guidance, FITF training materials, Patents Ombudsman, and much more
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.