[Federal Register Volume 74, Number 206 (Tuesday, October 27, 2009)]
[Page 55212]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E9-25798]

[[Page 55212]]



United States Patent and Trademark Office

[Docket No.: PTO-P-2009-0032]

Request for Comments on Patents Ombudsman Pilot Program

AGENCY: United States Patent and Trademark Office, Commerce.

ACTION: Request for comments.


SUMMARY: The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is 
currently developing a Patents Ombudsman Pilot Program. The Patents 
Ombudsman Pilot Program is intended to provide patent applicants, 
attorneys and agents with assistance with application-specific issues 
including prosecution advancement concerns. The Patents Ombudsman Pilot 
Program is not intended to circumvent normal communication between pro 
se applicants or applicant's representatives and examiners or 
Supervisory Patent Examiners (SPEs). The USPTO is inviting public 
comment on the proposed Patents Ombudsman Pilot Program.
    Comment Deadline Date: Written comments must be received on or 
before November 27, 2009. No public hearing will be held.

ADDRESSES: Written comments should be sent by electronic mail message 
over the Internet addressed to [email protected]. Comments may 
also be submitted by mail addressed to: Mail Stop Comments (Attention: 
Patents Ombudsman Pilot Program), Commissioner for Patents, P.O. Box 
1450, Alexandria, VA 22313-1450. Although comments may be submitted by 
mail, the USPTO prefers to receive comments via the Internet.
    The written comments will be available for public inspection at the 
Office of the Commissioner for Patents, located in Madison East, Tenth 
Floor, 600 Dulany Street, Alexandria, Virginia, and will be available 
via the USPTO Internet Web site (address: http://www.uspto.gov). 
Because comments will be made available for public inspection, 
information that is not desired to be made public, such as an address 
or phone number, should not be included in the comments.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mindy Fleisher, Special Programs 
Advisor, Technology Center 2400, at (571) 272-3365, or Pinchus M. 
Laufer, Legal Advisor, Office of Patent Legal Administration, Office of 
the Deputy Commissioner for Patent Examination Policy, at (571) 272-

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The majority of patent applications filed 
with the USPTO proceed through the examination process consistent with 
established USPTO procedure. However, some patent applicants, 
attorneys, and agents have expressed that their applications have not 
proceeded in accordance with established procedure. In some situations, 
the patent applicants, attorneys, and agents have felt that examination 
has stalled and that their efforts to move their applications forward 
through the normal channels have not been effective. Patent applicants, 
attorneys, and agents have suggested that there be a dedicated resource 
they can turn to in such instances. These suggestions have led the 
USPTO to consider implementing a Patents Ombudsman Pilot Program.
    After considering its resources, the USPTO is proposing that the 
pilot program take the following form. It is envisioned that pro se 
applicants or applicant's representatives would initiate use of the 
Patents Ombudsman Pilot Program via a link on the USPTO web site where 
pro se applicants or applicant's representatives would provide their 
name and phone number and select the ombudsman for the patent division 
(e.g., Technology Center) in which they are seeking assistance; replies 
to the initial communication for this pilot program will be by 
telephone rather than by written communication, such as e-mail. The 
ombudsman in the appropriate division will call the pro se applicant or 
applicant's representative within one business day to obtain a full 
description of the issue. Once the full description is obtained, the 
ombudsman would create a record in a database. The record in the 
database will be solely limited to the contact information and a broad 
description of the issue at a level not requiring being made part of 
the application record. All requests for assistance made to the pilot 
program will be tracked in the database to: (1) Ensure that all 
requests for assistance are addressed; (2) identify and use trends to 
develop targeted training for employees as appropriate; and (3) enhance 
customer service. After the USPTO gains greater experience with the 
Patents Ombudsman Pilot Program, the USPTO will reassess whether 
additional information concerning the issue should be recorded and 
where best to make a record of that information.
    If possible, the ombudsman will immediately resolve the issue 
(e.g., certain routine administrative issues); otherwise, the ombudsman 
will forward the issue to the appropriate area for review (e.g., 
Technical Support Staff, Technology Center Director, SPE, another 
business unit) and will request that the area send a message back to 
the ombudsman when the issue has been treated and the pro se applicant 
or applicant's representative has been notified.
    It is intended that all issues be considered and treated within ten 
business days. The ombudsman in each division will regularly monitor 
the database to ensure that issues are being treated in a timely 
manner. In particular, the ombudsman will inquire into instances where 
five business days have elapsed and there is no indication that the 
issue has been closed out or is actively in the process of being 
    The Patents Ombudsman Pilot Program is not intended as an 
alternative forum for resolution of disagreements between the applicant 
and the examiner that are currently resolved via appeal or petition. 
The Patents Ombudsman Pilot Program does not supplant the requirement 
that all business with the USPTO be conducted in writing.
    See 37 CFR 1.2.
    The USPTO is publishing this request for comments to gather public 
feedback on the Patent Ombudsman Pilot Program to ensure that it will 
serve the patent community as intended.

    Dated: October 21, 2009.
David J. Kappos,
Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of 
the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
[FR Doc. E9-25798 Filed 10-26-09; 8:45 am]