Director Kappos Announces PTO's Patents Ombudsman Program to Be Made Permanent

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A patent ombudsman program introduced 16 months ago as a pilot program by the Patent and Trademark Office will be made permanent, according to an Aug. 5 blog post by PTO Director David J. Kappos.

The ombudsman program is designed to assist patent applicants in handling application-processing problems if the normal channels have not been successful. The pilot program was launched in April 2010 (65 PTD, 4/7/10), but will be extended after its planned one-year run. Kappos said that in two intermediate surveys stakeholders made “an overwhelming endorsement of the Ombudsman pilot program.”

More Than 500 Inquiries Handled in Pilot

Under the program, applicants, attorneys, or agents who have application-processing concerns, and have been unable to get the assistance they need through normal channels, can contact the ombudsman representative through the PTO website. The PTO stressed that the program is not for use as an alternative forum for resolutions of disagreements between the applicant and examiners or their supervisors.

The agency identified Ombudsman Points of Contact, or PoCs, in each of its technology centers to respond to the applicant, work with staff to address the concerns expressed, and try to get the application back on track. Kappos said that stakeholders use the program “for a wide-range of reasons, from status inquiries to complicated petitions issues. Sometimes, applicants use the pilot program when they just don't know who to contact. All good, and all exactly why the Ombudsman program was created.”

“Since its launch,” Kappos said, “PoCs … have handled over 500 inquiries from patent applicants or their representatives and have addressed those inquiries in an average of 2 business days—faster than our promise of 10 business days! My congratulations and thanks go to the hardworking and prompt PoCs for this program.”

By Tony Dutra

Details of the program available at http://www.uspto.gov/patents/ombudsman.jsp