Memorial Day Weekend takes on special meaning in the Washington, D.C. area. New flags are placed on the gravesites at Arlington National Cemetery, Rolling Thunder comes to town to remind us of soldiers who are prisoners of war or missing in action, and families and friends honor their loved ones who served this country, visiting the Vietnam War Memorial, Korean War Memorial and World War II Memorial. Memorial Day Weekend also marks the unofficial start of summer, when neighborhood pools open and families head to the beach. After my visit to the Patent Office last week, I wonder if Director Kappos will be hitting the Mount Vernon Trail for a bike ride.

This bike was on display in the lobby of the Remsen Building at the USPTO. It is decked out for the “2012 Tour De COPA” and is promoting the USPTO’s efforts to reduce the backlog of unexamined patent applications under the Clearing the Oldest Patent Applications program. According to the USPTO’s Patents Dashboard, the COPA backlog is down to about 140,000 applications (from about 310,000 in February of 2011). 

As I wrote previously, the USPTO’s focus on COPA is one of several reasons that the RCE backlog is growing. Hopefully these COPA applications will experience a compact prosecution and not suffer more USPTO delays on an examiner’s RCE docket.