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    Subject Term: "Intellectual property rights"

    3 publications with a total of 15 open recommendations
    Director: Frank Rusco
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    7 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help improve patent quality, the Secretary of Commerce should direct the Director of the USPTO to develop a consistent definition of patent quality, and clearly articulate this definition in agency documents and other guidance.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to the agency's action plan, USPTO will update relevant agency guidance, conduct training, and take other actions in response to this recommendation by March 2017.
    Recommendation: To help improve patent quality, the Secretary of Commerce should direct the Director of the USPTO to further develop measurable, quantifiable goals and performance indicators related to patent quality as part of the agency's strategic plan.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to the agency's action plan, USPTO will update existing indicators and, as appropriate, develop new measures by October 2016.
    Recommendation: To help improve patent quality, the Secretary of Commerce should direct the Director of the USPTO to analyze the time examiners need to perform a thorough patent examination. This action could be taken in conjunction with the recommendation in our report on USPTO's prior art search capabilities (GAO-16-479).

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to the agency's action plan, USPTO will complete an examination of expectancy by April 2017.
    Recommendation: To help improve patent quality, the Secretary of Commerce should direct the Director of the USPTO to analyze how current performance incentives affect the extent to which examiners perform thorough examinations of patent applications.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to the agency's action plan, USPTO will complete an assessment of examination quality across current incentive award tiers by September 2017.
    Recommendation: To help improve patent quality, the Secretary of Commerce should direct the Director of the USPTO to establish a process to provide data on the results of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) proceedings to managers and staff in the USPTO's Technology Centers, and analyze PTAB data for trends in patent quality issues to identify whether additional training, guidance, or other actions are needed to address trends.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to the agency's action plan, USPTO will establish a process to provide examiners with information on various PTAB proceedings by September 2016.
    Recommendation: To help improve patent quality, the Secretary of Commerce should direct the Director of the USPTO to evaluate the effects of compact prosecution and other agency application and examination policies on patent quality. In doing so, USPTO should determine if any changes are needed to ensure that the policies are not adversely affecting patent quality.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to the agency's action plan, USPTO will complete an assessment of various policies on patent quality by September 2017.
    Recommendation: To help improve patent quality, the Secretary of Commerce should direct the Director of the USPTO to consider whether to require patent applicants to include claim clarity tools--such as a glossary of terms, a check box to signal functional claim language, or claim charts--in each patent application.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to the agency's action plan, USPTO will issue a request for comments on additional claim clarity tools by September 2017 and determine any new requirements by January 2018.
    Director: John Neumann
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    7 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that USPTO's collaborative efforts on classification help examiners find relevant prior art, USPTO should work with the European Patent Office (EPO) to identify a target level of consistency of Cooperative Patent Classification decisions between USPTO and EPO and develop a plan to monitor consistency to achieve the target.

    Agency: Department of Commerce: Patent and Trademark Office
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to the agency's action plan, USPTO has begun ongoing meetings with EPO on quality assurance. USPTO aims to agree to a target level, develop and deploy any needed IT, and begin monitoring and implementing corrective actions by first quarter of 2019.
    Recommendation: To ensure that USPTO is able to take full advantage of its investment in new information technology tools and capabilities, USPTO should develop and periodically update a documented strategy to identify key sources of nonpatent literature for individual technology centers and to assess the optimal means of providing access to these sources, such as including them in USPTO's search system.

    Agency: Department of Commerce: Patent and Trademark Office
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to the agency's action plan, USPTO will begin assessing nonpatent literature usage and develop a strategy for optimizing its usage by November 2017.
    Recommendation: To improve its monitoring of prior art searches and provide USPTO the ability to examine and address trends in prior art search quality at the technology center level, USPTO should develop written guidance on what constitutes a thorough prior art search within each technology field (i.e., mechanical, chemical, electrical), technology center, art area, or art unit, as appropriate, and establish goals and indicators for improving prior art searches.

    Agency: Department of Commerce: Patent and Trademark Office
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to the agency's action plan, USPTO will establish goals and indicators for prior art searches by December 2017.
    Recommendation: To improve its monitoring of prior art searches and provide USPTO the ability to examine and address trends in prior art search quality at the technology center level, USPTO should ensure that sufficient information is collected in reviews of prior art searches to assess the quality of searches at the technology center level, including how often examiners search for U.S. patents, foreign patents, and nonpatent literature.

    Agency: Department of Commerce: Patent and Trademark Office
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to the agency's action plan, USPTO will complete an evaluation of the master review form used to collect information on prior art search by April 2017 and will have performed a sufficient number of reviews by September 2017 to assess search quality at the technology center level.
    Recommendation: To improve its monitoring of prior art searches and provide USPTO the ability to examine and address trends in prior art search quality at the technology center level, USPTO should use the audits and supervisory reviews to monitor the thoroughness of examiners' prior art searches and improvements over time.

    Agency: Department of Commerce: Patent and Trademark Office
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to the agency's action plan, USPTO will develop metrics for prior art search quality and processes to incorporate information learned from these metrics by June 2017.
    Recommendation: To ensure that examiners have sufficient time to conduct a thorough prior art search, USPTO should, in conjunction with implementing the recommendation from our patent quality report to analyze the time examiners need to perform a thorough examination, specifically assess the time examiners need to conduct a thorough prior art search for different technologies.

    Agency: Department of Commerce: Patent and Trademark Office
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to the agency's action plan, USPTO will complete analyses of examiner's required duties and current time expectancies and determine what, if any, additional time should be given by September 2017.
    Recommendation: To ensure that examiners have the technical competence needed to complete thorough prior art searches, USPTO should assess whether the technical competencies of examiners in each technology center match those necessary; develop strategies to address any gaps identified, such as a technical training strategy; and establish measures to monitor progress toward closing any gaps.

    Agency: Department of Commerce: Patent and Trademark Office
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to the agency's action plan, USPTO will develop assessment tools and plans to address any gaps identified, as well as measure progress towards closing any gaps by December 2017.
    Director: David Gootnick
    Phone: (202) 512-3149

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve policymakers' and the public's understanding of progress through bilateral dialogues in increasing access to China's markets, the U.S. Trade Representative, in conjunction with the Secretary of Commerce and the Secretary of the Treasury, should work to provide clearer and more comprehensive reporting on the status of China's implementation of its JCCT and S&ED trade and investment commitments. This reporting should include more complete information on the status of implementation of these commitments, as well as a more clearly identified source for consolidated information, which could be an existing report.

    Agency: Executive Office of the President: Office of the U.S. Trade Representative
    Status: Open

    Comments: USTR has taken steps to implement this recommendation, but additional information on the status of specific commitments would further improve understanding of progress in these bilateral dialogues. USTR made changes to the Chinese trade barriers reporting in its 2014 National Trade Estimate Report on Foreign Trade Barriers (NTE report) to align more closely with other Congressional reports prepared by USTR on related issues. USTR also provided updated information in that NTE report on China's compliance with a commitment that had not been reported on in earlier reports. Further, USTR identified the Report to Congress on China's WTO Compliance as the one report among the various annual reports prepared by USTR that provides comprehensive information on the status of the trade and investment commitments that China has made through the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT) and the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED). As of July 2017, GAO is continuing to track agency progress in reporting on these commitments.