Earlier last month, Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Michelle Lee announced the Enhanced Patent Quality Initiative to increase the clarity of issued patents so as to ensure that patent holders and potential users are better informed of the full scope of the patents’ rights when making important business decisions. The initial programs under this initiative will include:

  1. Clarity of the Record Pilot and Training programs, which will emphasize the importance of maintaining a clearer, more detailed file history. As part of the pilot, examiners will include important claim constructions and more detailed explanations of allowances and rejections as part of the prosecution history; and
  2. Creation of a Master Review Form, which will track the process of quality reviews to ensure that the review process is unified across all reviewers and will allow these results to be shared with the public.  The form will allow for increased data collection of reviews of examiners’ work product across all levels of the USPTO and provide analytics to ensure that the law was properly interpreted and that the applicable reasoning was correctly applied.

The high-level goals of this initiative are to provide greater insight into the criteria that the USPTO uses to evaluate examiners and greater consistency of examination of patent applications across the agency. While a date for the initial programs was not yet formally announced, we will likely see their effects sometime in the new year. Happy patenting!