I was co-chair of last week’s IPO PTO Day conference, and it was a great event. The program included several speakers from the USPTO, including Commissioner for Patents Bob Stoll, Deputy Commissioner for Patents Peggy Focarino, Chief Administrative Patent Judge James Smith, Vice Chief Administrative Patent Judge James Moore, and Administrative Patent Judge Michael Tierney. Director Kappos gave the luncheon address. Here are some interesting tidbits of the information that they shared.

America Invents Act

  • It will be about 18 months before the USPTO starts collecting fees under its new fee-setting authority, although the initial stages of the fee-setting process are underway. Micro entities will have to wait until then to start paying fees at the 75% discounted rate.
  • There may be a technical amendment to delete the “best mode” requirement from 35 USC § 112.
  • Although Post-Grant Review will provide a process to challenge a new patent on many grounds, obviousness-type double patenting probably could not be raised, because it is not a ground for invalidation under 35 USC § 282.
  • The USPTO encourages public comment and suggestions for the new rules that will be promulgated under the AIA, and expects to issue Federal Register Notices with proposed rule makings in January 2012.

Track I Expedited Examination

  • 700 Track I applications were filed in Fiscal Year 2011 (in the few days between September 26, 2011 and September 30, 2011).
  • 800 Track I applications have been filed so far in Fiscal Year 2012.
  • Some Track I applications already have been allowed.
  • The USPTO probably will phase out the Green Technology program in favor of Track I.

(This article provides an overview of the Track I program.)

First Action Interview Program

  • About 25% of applications in the Fist Action Interview Program receive a Notice of Allowance as the first Office Action. (The general First Action Allowance rate is about 10%).

(This article provides an overview of the First Action Interview program.)

USPTO Hiring

  • The USPTO plans to hire 1500 new Examiners in Fiscal Year 2012, including 700 by March 2012.
  • The Board is actively recruiting Administrative Patent Judges.

Backlog of Ex Parte Appeals

  • The Board has a backlog of about 25,000 ex parte appeals, and expects to receive about 15,000 new appeals per year over the next few years.

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If you are following Mayo v. Prometheus, register for my IP Chat Channel webinar today (December 15, 2011) at 2:00 pm eastern. My co-panelists are Charles Doyle from Roche Molecular Systems and Prof. Katherine Strandburg from New York University School of Law.