In a recent e-mail to patent examiners, new USPTO Director Kappos focused on shifting examiners away from the mindset that rejection equals quality toward a focus on ensuring that patentable claims issue and that unpatentable claims fall.
One key is to expeditiously identify and resolve issues of patentability—that is getting efficiently to the issues that matter to patentability in each case, and working with applicants to find the patentable subject matter and get it clearly expressed in claims that can be allowed. The examiner and the applicant share the responsibility for the success of this process.
On the subject of quality, there has been speculation in the IP community that examiners are being encouraged to reject applications because a lower allowance rate equals higher quality. Let's be clear: patent quality does not equal rejection. In some cases this requires us to reject all the claims when no patentable subject matter has been presented. It is our duty to be candid with the applicant and protect the interests of the public. In other cases this means granting broad claims when they present allowable subject matter. In all cases it means engaging with the applicant to get to the real issues efficiently—what we all know as compact prosecution.
When a claimed invention meets all patentability requirements, the application should be allowed expeditiously. ... [B]y engaging with applicants early on, we certainly can get to the point more quickly, and efficiently allow those claims that are entitled to patent protection.