The team is joined by GuestKats Mirko Brüß, Rosie Burbidge, Nedim Malovic, Frantzeska Papadopolou, Mathilde Pavis, and Eibhlin Vardy
InternKats: Rose Hughes, Ieva Giedrimaite, and Cecilia Sbrolli
SpecialKats: Verónica Rodríguez Arguijo (TechieKat), Hayleigh Bosher (Book Review Editor), and Tian Lu (Asia Correspondent).

Sunday, 28 August 2005


1 Apology

The IPKat apologises for the somewhat strange and spasmodic nature of its blogs over the past few days. The Blogger software was playing up (the problem has since been rectified).

2 Incorporate the cow and let it keep its milk

The IPKat has learned from the National Journal's Technology Daily that the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) is to propose that the United States Patent and Trademark Office be turned into a government corporation headed by a CEO with strong business experience. The USPTO's incorporation is seen as the best way to improve its performance:

"As a self-sustaining federal entity that performs a direct service for fee-paying customers, [the USPTO] needs to be able to function like a business and report to Congress and the administration with a bottom-line set of financial statements".
A similar proposal, made in 1997, was defeated by small inventors when it was attached to a larger Bill they did not support.

The American Intellectual Property Law Association (AIPLA) supports incorporating PTO. Says its director Mike Kirk:
"We believe that allowing the PTO to function as a government corporation would greatly enhance the ability of the office to retain fee revenues to process their work".
Historically, PTO has had to remit to federal coffers all of the fees it collects from patent applications. Congress has redirected much of that money to other agencies even as the backlog in processing applications has grown. The NAPA report endorses the end to such fee diversion. The PTO
"needs to continue to have access to the fees it collects without fiscal-year limitation so that it may achieve efficiencies with steady stream funding and improve its ability to hire and retain the ... workers critical to its mission".
Turnover among patent examiners is high. Most leave the agency within three to five years. With such high attrition, seasoned examiners must be pulled off cases to train new workers. A bill to let the agency keep its fees - which amounted to about $800 million over the last 12 years - was introduced earlier this year. The future of this measure (HR 2791) is however in doubt because appropriators are unwilling to forgo their revenue stream.

The IPKat is delighted at the thought that the USPTO may have a little more opportunity to shape its own destiny, which retention of its income would facilitate. He also looks forward to the day when there will be an "elite" corps of big-name patent examiners who earn the sort of salaries that their skills and judgment should command. This, more than anything else, will make patent examination a positive career choice rather than a 'third-best' option for people who can't get anything better. Merpel says, "but surely an examiner is only as good as the Office's examination manual lets him be ..."

(Right, The Software Patent Examiner, a.k.a. Juror No.6, Daniel Lee, 1996).

3 US Copyright Office not so friendly to alien browsers

A news item in The Register reports that the US Copyright Office wants to limit the number of browsers that can submit online forms to its site. The agency has proposed that, temporarily at least, it will accept copyright claims via forms submitted from only Microsoft Internet Explorer or Netscape browsers. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has objected, writing to say:
"The proposed system would be contrary to at least the spirit of federal information policy adopted by the E-Government Act of 2002".
This is bad news for at least one of the IPKat's co-blogmeisters (Jeremy), who generally browses via his much beloved Crazy Browser. Merpel says, I didn't realise Netscape was still around ...


Guy said...

Becoming an examiner is a lengthy but low cost way of becoming a US Patent Attorney and earning big bucks. It normally takes four years examining patents by day. and earning a living wage, while studying law and attending classes at night. The minor downside is a few years ban, after qualification, on handling subject matter as a patent attorney in fields where you had acted as examiner. When I was employed by a US firm the parent company had a number of ex-USPTO attorneys in its patent section and I learned about the system. If, as with the UK Patent Office, the USPTO had control of its finances a wage structure could be devised that enabled examiners to be retained.

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