Patently-O: I understand that you want to remain anonymous. However, can you give readers some clue as to who you are? [a patent attorney; group of attorneys; law students; patent examiners; PTO Director]
UE: I am an intellectual property practitioner.
Patently-O: Why did you start the USPTO Examiners site and what is its purpose?
UE: I have always believed in providing high quality work to my clients without their incurrence of unnecessary costs. When I first started practicing intellectual property law, in my personal opinion, patent examiners and the patent practitioners (e.g., patent attorneys and patent agents) were working towards accomplishing the goal of promoting technological advancement. To that end, there was a mutual exchange of ideas in a collegial environment.
However, over the past few years, at least in my opinion, it appears as though some of the patent examiners are less interested in learning the patent rules, applying the patent rules appropriately when examining a patent application, and/or the consequence of their decision. Moreover, some of the patent examiners have developed an “us (examiners) against them (patent practitioners) attitude.”
As a result of some of the patent examiners’ actions and mentality, the cost of prosecuting a patent application has increased. One option to potentially prevent making costly arguments that fall on deaf ears would be to know what successful strategies other patent practitioners used when working with a particular patent examiner. Another option would include increased training for examiners so that the patent practitioners do not spend their clients’ money teaching the patent examiners the law and the application of the law to the specific facts of a case. As such, I created a vehicle in which patent and trademark practitioners can post information about their individual experiences, as well as their opinions (their concerns and their satisfaction) about patent examiners and trademark examining attorneys with whom they have worked.
I believe that the experiences and the opinions of patent and trademark practitioners can potentially serve four purposes. First, if an individual who reads the information posted on my website is a patent or trademark practitioner, that individual may factor in the posted experiences and opinions of other patent and trademark practitioners when determining the competency and responsiveness of a particular patent examiner or trademark examining attorney to better serve their clients. Second, if an individual who reads the information posted on my website is in charge of training patent examiners or trademark examining attorneys, that individual may decide that it is necessary to investigate whether an examiner or a trademark examining attorney needs additional training in particular areas. Third, the positive comments will encourage and praise the competent patent examiners and trademark examining attorneys to continue doing the great job that they have been doing. Finally, the non-positive comments will hopefully encourage the affected patent examiners and trademark examining attorneys to improve their work product or their mentality.
It is likely that some of the patent examiners in the same technology Group Art Unit and some of the trademark examining attorneys in the same Law Office discuss the strengths and weaknesses of a particular patent or trademark practitioner to better strategize their Office Action. I am not doing anything different with this website. I have simply created a forum that allows patent and trademark practitioners to anonymously discuss their opinions about a particular patent examiner or trademark examining attorney to better strategize their responses to Office Actions. For example, one post mentioned that the patent practitioner had an appointment to meet with an examiner. However, the examiner was not in his office at the designated time and even after arriving at his office a couple of hours later, he still ignored the patent practitioner who was waiting at the security desk. When a patent practitioner reads a comment like the one above, he or she can better determine whether meeting this particular examiner for an interview would or would not be a good use of the clients’ money.
It is important for everyone to realize that there is no way to check the accuracy of an anonymous posted comment. Therefore, each posted comment should be taken for what it is, and the individuals who read the website should not base their entire strategy on a posted comment.
Patently-O: Do you expect that these reviews will improve the examination process?
UE: I believe that patent examiners and trademark examining attorneys have a difficult and stressful job. I hope that my website will make a small contribution in improving the examination process by improving the work product and knowledge of the examiners as discussed above. Furthermore, I hope the patent and trademark practitioners can use the information to save time and their clients’ money.
Patently-O: Why are you remaining anonymous? Do you expect that you’ll be ‘outed’ at some point?
UE: As some of the comments made on some of the IP blogs indicate, this website appears to be somewhat controversial. I have gone out of my way to program the website so that the identity of the individuals who post their opinions remain anonymous. This is to ensure that those individuals may post their opinions without the fear of reprisal from a patent examiner or a trademark examining attorney. For the same reason, I would like to remain anonymous.
With respect to being outed, it is likely that I will be outed at some point. I hope that by that time, this website is well respected, is seen as a source for improving the patent process system, and is used as a factor to better strategize prosecuting a patent or trademark application.
Patently-O: Users have already posed what appear to be defamatory comments on the site. Are you planning to monitor the site and take any action to stop such activity?
UE: I do not continuously monitor the messages. However, I do review my e-mail at email@example.com once a day. As stated on the top portion of the message board, “USPTO Examiners’ message board is provided simply as an informational resource. Information is provided as is; no guarantees, warranties or representations are made as to its accuracy or completeness. The posted messages are simply opinions of the message drafters and do not represent opinions of USPTO Examiners, its affiliates, officers, directors, employees, consultants, contractors, and agents.
If you find an offensive, defamatory, or inappropriate message or comment, please report it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.” Furthermore, the legal notice provides the terms and conditions for using the website. Most of the users of this website are professionals who, I would hope, would use their common sense as to what is or what is not an appropriate comment.
Patently-O: Any suggestion on folks I could talk with about the site who would go on record?
UE: Not at this time.