In her opening remarks during the Patent Public Advisory Committee’s August 14, 2014, meeting, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Deputy Director Michelle Lee referred to the Inspector General’s report, summarized in Issue 82 of this Bulletin, and defended the agency’s telework program. While Lee acknowledged “isolated problems,” she noted that the program has been a success, with teleworking employees spending more time examining applications than examiners at headquarters and helping to significantly reduce the backlog of unexamined patent applications. She outlined steps that had been taken to improve the accounting process and educate supervisors and employees on telework policies.
Lee also reported that USPTO anticipates receiving some 600,000 patent applications during the current fiscal year, “an increase of more than five percent over Fiscal Year 2013,” and observed, “Our backlog of unexamined patent applications now stands at fewer than 620,000—a decrease of more than 17 percent since 2009, despite an average five percent increase in filings year over year.” She further described how Denver’s mayor has welcomed visitors traveling through the city’s airport by claiming in a public service announcement that the newly opened USPTO satellite office is expected to generate in excess of $400 million in economic activity there.
Agency officials speaking in addition to Lee were slated to address issues including new guidance and training provided to patent examiners in light of recent court rulings, efforts to reduce the Request for Continued Examination backlog, international efforts, updates on the Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s work, finance and budget issues, and legislative initiatives.