Sunday, October 17, 2010

PTO introduces new quality metrics for examination

The Inventive Step blog reports here about a new suite of PTO quality metrics recently introduced by Director Kappos.

One is "Final Disposition Compliance Rate," which involves a review of final Office Actions and Notices of Allowance for clear error – i.e., did the Examiner allow something that he shouldn't have and did the Examiner finally reject something he shouldn't have.  This metric has been in use before Kappos.

But several other metrics are new. I'm particular encouraged by two of the new ones: a review of the Examiner's first search ("First Office Action on the Merits Search Review"); and a review of the Examiner's first Office Action ("Complete First Action on the Merits Review").

What exactly is the PTO going to do with these metrics? According to an official PTO description (here), the metrics will "aid in identification of their sources so that problems may be remediated by training, and so that the presence of outstanding quality procedures may be identified and encouraged."

1 comment:

  1. That is the problem - the PTO can do whatever it wants with these metrics and surveys. The metrics themselves are fuzzily defined. And it is not clear what the PTO will do with them. Is the PTO going to weigh rejection and allowance errors equally? If not, why not? What disincentives will Examiners have to prevent them from issuing bogus final rejections (or initial rejections)?

    I still would like to see the PTO address these glaring problems:

    1. Restriction/election reform. Current guidance/practice (chapter 800) is almost impossible to understand. And it is arguably contrary to law, because the law requires the inventions to be distinct *AND* independent, not *OR*.

    2. Petition reform. The PTO is notorious for not responding to petitions in a timely manner, which is why most practitioners hardly file them.

    3. Transparency on appeal success rates. David Boundy and Ron Katznelson estimate that 80-90% of appeals result in withdrawing or reversing rejections. That information should be posted on the PTO dashboard.

    4. Investigation of variance and outliers in Examiner quality, Art Unit quality, SPE quality, etc. Are some Examiners, SPEs, or primaries outliers that issue too many allowances or rejections? Too many rejections later withdrawn or reversed? Some examiners barely speak English. The PTO should be comparing these things and creating incentives and rewards for good relative performance.

    5. Deferred examination. This would immediately reduce the workload by ~20% but is not seriously considered.

    Etc. Etc.