Although the Data Visualization numbers posted yesterday show that the backlog and that time to first Office Action have been stagnant during the current fiscal year, PTO Director David Kappos says the agency is on pace to reach its goal of cutting the backlog to 700,000 by the end of the fiscal year September 30.
He reported that PTO filings are up 4% this year as a 2.3% drop during FY2009. The long term goal is to reduce the backlog to 325,000 applications by FY2015.
He believes that further use of the Patent Prosecution Highway, a program where the PTO coordinates prosecution with foreign patent offices, will greatly assist in reaching this goal. Four thousand applications were processed on the PPH this year with the plan for 8,000 during FY2011.
Kappos still believes in the revised count system as a means of reducing RCE filings. These filings had increased at a rate of 29% during FY2008. The increase in FY2010 is only 9%. He believes that the trend will eventually head downward.
He also plans to hire about 1,000 new examiners during each of FY2011 and 2012.
The bleak numbers, along with the bleak economy of the last several years, demonstrate that things were worse at the PTO than was originally thought when Kappos became the new director. Kappos appears to be implementing a number of measures from the business world. These have stopped the numbers from getting appreciably worse.
It’s always easier to go from terrible to bad than it is from bad to mediocre or from mediocre to good. We’ll see if he can take the agency on the next step.