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More examination outsourcing by the USPTO?
September 17, 2007

According to a news release published today, the USPTO is exploring the feasability of having the Swedish Patent and Registration Office (PRV) perform the search and examination of international applications filed under the PCT in the U.S. receiving office. In the release, the USPTO notes that it receives about 50,000 international applications and about 400,000 national applications per year. The pilot program will only involve 50 applications, but there is no word as to whether applicants will be notified if they are a part of the program or have an opportunity to request that they not be a part of the program.

The move to potentially shift the search and examination responsibilities for the 50,000 international applications away from the USPTO is in line with other efforts by the office to reduce the application backlog. Of course, this sort of examination outsourcing is one of the concerns POPA has with the Patent Reform Act, although arguably not as problematic as it deals with international applications rather than national applications.

Update (3:00 PM): One emailer has noted that a previous pilot program started in 2005 with several domestic firms, and another program outsourcing additional PCT searches to IP Australia began in 2005 and was extended in February.

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