Goings on and Rumored Changes at the USPTO (Summer 2011)

As discussed last week, the USPTO is anticipating the passage of patent reform in the near term.  Upon enactment, the agency would have access to the additional fees of the one track program (expedited patent application examination), and the 15% surcharge.  Based on this influx of funding, it is expected that current restrictions on operations will be lifted, such as the freeze on examiner overtime. Hiring is also expected to begin again, with the goal of bringing in additional examiners as well as a significant number of Administrative Patent Judges (APJs). A detailed financial snapshot of USPTO operations and budgeting was presented at last week’s PPAC meeting. Preparations are underway to begin the hiring process in a matter of weeks. (CFO presentation here)

Of perhaps greater interest to practitioners, back in May, the Office issued a statement noting that the Therasense decision was being studied. It is rumored that the USPTO will issue a Notice of Proposed Rule-making as early as tomorrow to adjust Rule 56 practice in light of Therasense. 

Check back tomorrow for an update.