Changes in the US Patent Process With the New President – PART 3
In part 1 of this series, plans by the Republican Study Committee to restructure some federal departments was our main focus because we wanted to start off by emphasizing how President Trump immediately began to influence US policy as soon as he stepped into office. With major proposed budget cuts to the Departments of Energy, Justice and Commerce; anyone in the patent business has to pay close attention right now. Why? This is because the Department of Commerce is facing the deepest cuts of any government division, other than the Department of Energy, and while present documents don’t indicate that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office will be directly affected; anything can happen and nothing is “written in stone.”
The USPTO says they expect to continue operating with the same budget as before but, there are some strong and opposing views on patent reform in this administration. Some Republicans want to keep a close eye on how Director Michelle Lee handles new patent processes and invalidation procedures. It’s safe to assume that Mike Pence, who is a part of the American Conservative Union, shares its views on how patent law reform will put a damper on innovation in US businesses. Jeff Sessions, Attorney General, has been very out-spoken about how he is against specific aspects of patent reform. Ultimately, we have to wait and see what the President thinks.
In part 2, we talked about some changes that the USPTO want to see happen. One area includes more user-friendly processes for informational searches. Although there are a variety of search interfaces available, they aren’t really designed with the inexperienced in mind. Director Lee spoke about the Open Data Portal project and releasing public APIs in early 2016. At this forum, she stated that “anyone with even the most basic programming experience would now be able to explore our data according to their own interests, curiosity and business needs”. We have seen a handful of APIs emerge as part of this project but, functionality is still quite limited.
When performing a manual search at their website, you still have to read each patent individually which is cumbersome and involves a signiﬁcant investment of time. Also, users have to invest some time in learning the syntax or rules involved with searching in some of these speciﬁc ﬁelds. A more relevant public API could be a new project for a developer so that people, in the future, can quickly download a complete set of search results. Back in October, Tom Beach, USPTO senior adviser along with Scott Beliveau, program manager, said that they were still in the beginning stages of modeling, indexing and transitioning information in the Open Data Portal to a data lake. I guess we just have to wait, see what happens and hope for more improvements and innovation with searches in the future.
The Road Ahead
With a different administration in charge, there will certainly be some changes in the US patent process and the new President has come into office with a loud voice. We suggest that everyone file their patent fast because these major adjustments in the Department of Commerce are coming; and the way things are now, we can’t reasonably anticipate when and what will happen. Michelle Lee will see challenges with implementing patent reform policies because of some opposition in this administration. This can cause major obstacles because if patent rights and policies are too weak; inventors may decide it’s not worth sharing their discoveries. If they’re too strong, monopolists can hinder new entrepreneurship and erect barriers to research. At KISSPatent, we understand startups and want to help you through these uncertain times. This is because the patent system depends highly on the strategic and institutional environment in which it operates. With these shifts in the economic landscape and the U.S. government reducing its total spending, it’s now more important than ever to protect your intellectual property rights.