Yesterday, the USPTO sent a message to employees that due to congressional budget cuts, it will have to cancel or cutback several new programs, including two really great ideas.
The Track One expedited examination program, previously scheduled to start up on May 4, 2011, is indefinitely postponed. The USPTO was going to allow new applicants to speed up the patent examination process in exchange for big money (not really, just $4,000 plus the typical fees, etc.). In most cases, the new prioritized examination program would have resulted in a final answer within 12 months of filing. Published in the April 4, 2011 edition edition of the Federal Register, the rule would have implemented the first track of a three-track examination process.
This would have been a great program, and would have been a proving ground for an alternative to the one-size-fits-all tracking we have today. Other jurisdictions have moved ahead with similar programs, and we should be leading in this area, not quitting.
If that isn’t frustrating enough, and in yet another blow to the city whose fame is now based on bulldozing historic buildings and making Robocop come true, the once-hailed Detroit satellite office (Tactical IP article here) has also been nixed . For now, perish the thought of other satellite offices in Melbourne, Florida or Seattle, Washington, or anywhere else. The PTO had planned to employ 100 patent examiners in the Detroit office by summer 2011 — a God send for out of work but emminently useful engineers. Those of us on Florida’s Space Coast were holding out hope that a local office would be here sooner rather than later. I’m still hopeful that we’ll get one, but the wait will be longer.
Last but not least, and most relevant to the here and now, new examiner hiring is frozen and examiner overtime is suspended. The backlog seems likely to remain constant or get worse, unless new efficiencies are found or quality cuts made.
Peace out innovation! Goodbye new jobs created by awesome new inventions! Hello continued stagnation and exaggerated negativity! All hail stagnation!