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July 29, 2008


USPTO Deputy Director Margaret J.A. Peterlin is throwing in the towel, not a day too soon. From the PTO announcement:

In addition to enhancing operational efficiencies, Deputy Under Secretary Peterlin strategically positioned the USPTO as a leader in such important policy debates as patent modernization legislation, in which the USPTO played a lead role in forming and communicating the Administration's position.

As irrelevant as she was incompetent in her position, Peterlin survived a lawsuit to have her rousted mere days from her appointment, on the grounds that her worthless legacy was foretold. The judge wouldn't hear it.

Peterlin got Rodney Dangerfield treatment ("no respect") from the examiners corp.

She asked business school students how to improve the patent office. The project whimpered with no impact, as did her tenure at the agency.

Peterlin's legacy at the PTO is one of a lost opportunity, wasted time in lieu of forward movement. Good riddance.

Posted by Patent Hawk at July 29, 2008 6:52 PM | The Patent Office


"Peterlin's legacy at the PTO is one of a lost opportunity, wasted time in lieu of forward movement."

Well said, Hawk, but at least now (with no forward movement commanded from the helm) the agency is on track to meet 100% of its goals, for the first time in history.

Posted by: anonymous at July 30, 2008 3:59 AM

The PTO needs to be more than a pit stop for Congressional staff flunkies to pad their resume.

Let's hope President Obama takes the PTO a little more seriously than the current administration.

Posted by: JD at July 30, 2008 5:31 AM

Patent Hawk:

I can't find anything online which reports specifically what the business school students recommended be done to improve the patent office. That is a project which the taxpayers paid for and we are entitled to the results.

Can you follow up on this for your readers please.

(My guess is that they recommended that the "count" system be changed.)

Posted by: patent prosecutor at July 30, 2008 9:02 AM

I don't know how I missed that Mar 28 post. Roast. Whatever. It was one of your better ones.

According to Obvious, Peterlin is leaving to have her first child. This suggests that her appointment was actually, contrary to popular patent prosecutors' opinion, an inspiration.

I mean, if you're going to appoint an incompetent political hack to a high position for which he/she has zero qualifications, it behooves you to appoint a pre-menopausal woman so you'll have a way to graciously dump her without appearing to give into to rancorous criticisms, insults, and lawsuits.

We should give Dudas, who is, arguably, mentally menopausal, credit for this astute appointment. Too bad whomever appointed Dudas didn't appoint someone with a potential for getting pregnant.

Who DID appoint Dudas, anyway?

Posted by: Babel Boy at July 31, 2008 8:36 AM

Babel Boy, in assuming that Dudas dumped Peterlin, I think you're assuming that Dudas is smarter than Peterlin (which wouldn't necessarily be true, and might be completely false). Let's give credit where credit is due - all of the Bush Administration's PTO appointees (Rogan, Dudas, Peterlin) have done the proverbial "heckuva job" for the last 7+ years, and have acted fully in accordance with this administration's historically unprecedented (for America) non-qualification standards.

BTW, no one appointed Dudas to be Director. "Dudas assumed the post under the succession provisions of the 1999 American Inventors Protection Act." (I would assume that Rogan cronied-in Dudas in the same manner that Dudas cronied-in Peterlin, even though I believe it was actually Commerce Secretary Gutierrez who appointed Peterlin.)


Posted by: NIPRA anonymous at July 31, 2008 4:29 PM

patent prosecutor:

Thanks for asking about the outcome of the Peterlin's business school exercise. I recall reading about the outcome somewhere, but have been unable to dredge the reportage. At the time, it was too little story to cover. Apparently, too little story for the PTO too, as far as substance is concerned. See: http://www.uspto.gov/main/homepagenews/2008may16.htm. The link about what the judges had to say is broken, naturally.

The winning suggestion was not something meaningful, as you suggested (the examiner incentive point count system), which would be a fine suggestion. The winning suggestion was something rather useless. The contestents were, after all, MBA students.

Posted by: Patent Hawk at July 31, 2008 9:04 PM

Patent Hawk:

I think that the PTO did not like the results of the exercise and thus buried the results. My guess is that the results were that the count system should be modified, which most/many of us inside and outside of the PTO agree with, but which PTO management disagrees. It still would be interesting if you (or someone) could ferret out the results and publish them.

Posted by: patent prosecutor at August 1, 2008 6:06 AM

So it doesn't fall off the radar screen, from Hal Wegner ( http://www.ipfrontline.com/ ):

'The best solution that came out of this contest was to cure the "expectation gap" of prospective examiners. Peterlin's solution is to "have [Examiner] candidates participate in the [PTO's] 'A Day in the Life of an Examiner' program, but that finding funding for such a scheme would be a problem."'

Posted by: MBA Contest winner at August 4, 2008 12:45 PM

It is clear that the parent office has gone from ok to terrible. In the recent past I have seen patents issued on designs that have been in use in some cases with in the machine tool industry for more than 100 years. They have resently issued patents on designs that have been in use by numerous companies for over 20 years some of these cover under other patents. I have had designs that were on the internation market for years , that were not patented because I was told by an incompetent patent attorney in Waltham that it could not be patented. Openly and admittedly copied and patented. The patent ofice NEEDS to be Dramaticaly changed.

Posted by: Douglas Smith at August 28, 2008 12:05 PM