Over the past year, USPTO Director Jon Dudas has given high priority to streamlining the PTO's reexamination procedures. To that end, on July 29, 2005, the PTO announced a new initiative to ensure that reexaminations are performed in a timely and accurate manner.
Under the initiative, the PTO has opened an office with 20 primary examiners who focus their time entirely on reexaminations. All new requests for reexam will be assigned to that office in order to both enhance the quality and reduce the time of reexamination "by allowing the USPTO to monitor more effectively the reexamination operations."
The USPTO’s goal is that reexaminations that have been pending with an examiner more than two years now will be resolved by October 1, 2005. In addition, all future reexamination proceedings will be completed within a specific timeframe, which is expected to be less than two years. In March 2005 there were over 420 reexaminations that had been pending more than two years and that number would have grown to over 600 by the end of September 2005. Today, fewer than 360 cases remain, with nearly half in the final stages. To ensure the quality of these proceedings, all reexamination decisions now require a thorough review by a panel of supervisors and senior patent examiners. Reexaminations where an initial decision has been made will remain with the examiner originally assigned to the reexamination. All other reexaminations will be reassigned to a newly formed central reexamination unit.