Thursday, February 28, 2008

Hiring Practices Not Reducing Patent Application Backlog

The GAO (General Accounting Office) released a report on February 27, 2008 entitled: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office: Hiring Efforts Are Not Sufficient to Reduce the Patent Application Backlog . The report indicates that attrition is offsetting hiring efforts with one patent examiner leaving the USPTO for approximately every two hired during the period 2002-2006. The newly hired examiners leave at the highest rate. Seventy percent of those who left had been at the agency for less than five years.

One of the chief reasons for leaving appears to be production goals formulated over 30 years ago that do not reflect the complexity of today's applications. Seventy percent of patent examiners worked unpaid overtime last year to meet their production goals. On the other hand, the USPTO's retention policies introduced between 2002 and 2006 are cited by those who chose to stay. The examiners who remained on the job liked the USPTO's salary and pay incentives and the flexible work schedule.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Have Invention - What Now?

Are you one of those inventors who has exhausted all your energy by developing your idea into a concrete form and searching to be sure no one else has beaten you to the punch? Are you totally lost when it comes to developing a business plan, getting a loan, or formulating a marketing strategy? The Mississippi Small Business Development Center has created downloadable videos covering the following topics: Total Quality Service; Marketing I, II, and III; Understanding and Using Financial Ratios; Home Based Business; Idea to Market - Guidance for Inventors; Legal Structure; First Steps; Developing a Business Plan; Developing Cash Flow Statements; What the Banker Wants; Accounting by the Numbers; Basics of Exporting; Basics of Importing; Getting the Most for Your Advertising Dollars; and Secrets to Saving Your Business.

Other agencies also provide helpful resources. SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives) has online resources linked by subject and by categories of entrepreneurs: 50-plus, women, veterans, minority, young, and manufacturers. The Houston branch of the SBA (Small Business Administration) offers Webinars, newsletters, electronic applications, and a Houston Resource Guide 2008. The University of Houston's Small Business Development Center offers complimentary professional business consulting and reasonably priced seminars and workshops. The City of Houston's One Stop Business Center offers free "Starting a Small Business" seminars at local libraries, multi-service centers, and schools in addition to their online materials. Last but not least, the Houston Inventors Association has meetings on Wednesday evenings twice a month featuring a whole host of topics of interest to inventors/manufacturers/product scouts, etc. Check their Web site also for helpful online resources such as the Online Tradeshow for Buyers of New Inventions.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Nominations for the National Medal of Technology and Innovation

Do you know an individual, team of up to four people, a company, or a division of a company who has made an outstanding contribution to the economic, environmental, and social well-being of the United States through technological innovations? If so, nominations for the National Medal of Technology and Innovovation (NMTI) are being accepted by the USPTO until May 30, 2008. Guidelines and a nomination form are available at

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Historical MPEP Now Online

The most current copy of the Manual of Patent Examining Procedures (MPEP) has been online for awhile, but now the USPTO has created an online archive containing editions from 1948-2006. The archive provides an opportunity for researchers to locate historical information about patent laws and regulations and prior art searching. Although the MPEP does not have the force of law, patent examiners are required to follow the procedures outlined in the manual.