By Jessica M. Karmasek | Dec 1, 2014

WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) - The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has established a special pilot unit to better help inventors filing patent applications on their own.


Michelle Lee, deputy under secretary of commerce for intellectual property and deputy director of the PTO, said in a blog post last week that the office is “committed” to assisting those pro se filers through education and tools.


“Our Office of Innovation Development (OID) has a long history of helping pro se and independent inventors understand and navigate the patenting process as well as offering a variety of resources and outreach programs to the public,” Lee wrote.

“The agency is now expanding these services by piloting a special unit focused on examining applications filed by pro se applicants.”


The office’s new Pro Se Pilot Examination Unit began in October and will operate for at least one year, Lee said.


The unit is made up of experienced examiners from all scientific disciplines, she said.


The examiners, Lee explained, are trained on issues typically faced by pro se applicants, including how to respond to a Notice of Missing Parts or how to revive an unintentionally abandoned application, and can answer general patent-related questions via a toll-free phone number, email or walk-ins.


She said the unit will enable the office to gather more information on pro se filings and gauge its own effectiveness.


The unit, like the office’s new Patent Pro Bono Program, is the product of an executive action issued by the White House in February. The actions aim to protect businesses from so-called “patent trolls,” strengthen the country’s patent system and foster innovation.


“The Pro Se Pilot Examination Unit is one more way the USPTO fulfills its duties to promote the advancement of technology, and to ensure creators benefit from their intellectual property and that society benefits from their inventions as well,” Lee wrote.


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