USPTO Commissioner Bob Stoll and Me

Written by: Mark Terry

Last night I had the pleasure of attending a South Florida Intellectual Property Law dinner in Miami, Florida that featured a presentation by Commissioner Robert Stoll. Super nice guy, by the way. In a word, he killed. He knew exactly what to present to a group of patent practitioners and he has really changed my outlook regarding the Patent Office. Just some of the good news he presented:

  • a program to decrease pendency to first action to 10 months
  • a program to decrease TOTAL pendency to 20 months
  • a First Action Interview program to encourage Examiner’s to initiate an interview after the first search but before the first action is entered
  • hiring 1,000 Examiners this fiscal year and another 1,000 next fiscal year (yes, that’s three zeros)

Of course, as a full-time patent practitioner I was ecstatic to hear that one day I may get a first office action 10 months after filing a utility patent application. In my ten years practicing, I’ve seen that only once. And to think that I could get a call from an Examiner BEFORE the first office action! That would greatly facilitate getting cases to final resolution quickly. Theoretically, if these programs were fully implemented, you could file a patent application on Jan. 1 and you could have an issued patent in the same year. If I could tell my clients they could potentially have an issued patent within one year, I think they’d want to file many more patent applications. Thus, if these programs stay on course, the USPTO can expect increased filings.

In short, Commissioner Stoll’s programs are aiming to reduce unnecessary back-and-forth between practitioners and the USPTO and to expedite the process of getting to final resolution. For that reason, his programs are immensely popular, especially among us patent attorneys.

As a side note, Commissioner Stoll came off as a supremely cool spokesperson for the Office, deftly handling complaints about the USPTO from attendees while focusing on his agenda to improve the USPTO. From a practitioner standpoint, we should support Bob Stoll’s programs, as they will make patent prosecution easier for us and surely increase business.


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