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January 19, 2010

Scan This

"Believe it or not, in our patent office -- now, this is embarrassing -- this is an institution responsible for protecting and promoting innovation -- our patent office receives more than 80 percent of patent applications electronically, then manually prints them out, scans them, and enters them into an outdated case management system. This is one of the reasons why the average processing time for a patent is roughly three years." - President Obama

Hat tip of thanks to Professor Dennis Crouch.

Posted by Patent Hawk at January 19, 2010 12:57 AM | The Patent Office


"our patent office receives more than 80 percent of patent applications electronically, then manually prints them out, scans them, and enters them into an outdated case management system."

Unfortunately, even our President doesn't have the facts straight on how EFS currently works. Instead, it would help if the Obama administration would focus on "real issues," amongst others, Congress again "stealing" user fees that are badly needed to support the USPTO's operation.

Posted by: EG at January 19, 2010 6:06 AM

Printing, scanning, docketing ... about a 20-30 minute job that can also be outsourced. This may be "one of the reasons" for delayed prosecution, but a small one indeed. Increasing the examiner corps would do far more. Perhaps the administration should recognize that improving the compensation of the examiners requires more than the payment of lip service.

Posted by: ER at January 19, 2010 8:53 PM

Close the Office.

No more hassles. No more fees. No examination or registration. Life moves on.

What could be simpler?

Posted by: EZ at January 20, 2010 4:25 AM

Everyone, on Patently-O and here, keeps saying that Obama has his facts wrong. In what way, exactly?

All of the documents I send to the PTO end up looking like crap in PAIR, so I'm thinking he's right.

So what do they REALLY do internally? Either put up or shut up.

Posted by: Patent Medicine at January 20, 2010 5:56 AM


In saying that the PTO currently prints out the applications and then scans the printed application back into the system. That's no longer true. My understanding is that the application papers filed via EFS are uploaded directly in to PAIR. (Whether the PTO uses an "outdated case management system" is an entirely different issue.) Does that help you?

Posted by: EG at January 20, 2010 6:25 AM

EFS is not the same as IFW, i.e., the outdated file management system mostly hocked from the EPO way back when (2003?).


Posted by: nirpa at January 20, 2010 4:45 PM

Another IP blogger has claimed that President Obama got this one factually wrong and/or mischaracterized the situation. However, he also concedes the obvious -- that the US patent law system is broken (at least in its administration) and badly needs repairs. Thankfully, appointing Kappos to the Director's post is a step in the right direction. And at least the President is talking about patent law ... what a novelty!

Posted by: Gena777 at January 23, 2010 5:31 PM

As an examiner, I love the concept of converting electronic to paper to electronic to paper. It's marvelous in its idiocy.

I have had numerous occurrences in which I send out a PDF file as non-patent literature only to get a call from an applicant that it is barely legible on his end or in our internal system. I was pleased to learn that my PDF submitted thorough our electonic filing system was printed and re-scanned to create a degraded 2nd generation copy which was then transmitted to the attorney. To this day, neither myself nor my manager have received an explanation for the insane electronic-paper-electronic conversion process that takes place in the bowels of our building.

Posted by: JB at January 26, 2010 7:42 PM

JB, ever take a look at the quality of the OCR in the PTO's proprietary OCR system, used for the OCR file? It's literally "second to none" (meaning nothing would be better than it), and the worst of all.

The concept of spell/grammar checking is so far beyond system capabilities.

I'm sure some contractor (or SIRA manager) was laughing all the way to the bank on that one.

Posted by: nirpa at January 27, 2010 3:39 AM