To help ensure that U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) is on a path to effectively achieve modernization and meet its challenges, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Science, State, Commerce, and Justice asked the Academy to review the agency’s structure and business processes and to provide insights on whether and how agency efforts have helped to increase patent quality and decrease patent pendency.
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Congress also requested that the Academy examine the extent to which PTO has a suitable employee allocation and skill mix. The Academy reviewed and assessed organizational and human capital structures, the timeliness and quality challenges PTO faces in processing patent applications, and whether it has the appropriate skills needed within its staff.
The report provided key recommendations aimed at enabling PTO to better meet the needs of both the nation and the individual inventor. Findings included: Adoption of a corporate structure would enable PTO to respond more quickly and effectively to workload, yet remain accountable to Congress, the President, and stakeholders; PTO could adopt a pay scale or performance-based pay system that could improve recruitment and reduce attrition; while PTO cannot hire its way out of its pendency problems in the short term, unchecked attrition of recent hires is at historical levels and will likely exacerbate the pendency problem and reduce the quality and consistency of patent determinations.