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Archived updates for Friday, November 12, 2004

POPA Proposes IFW Improvements

According to the November 2004 Issue os the Patent Office Professional Association, USPTO Deputy Director Steve Pinkos welcomed POPA representatives on October 21 to discuss the following reccomendations for the Image File Wrapper system:
  • Improve Contractor Scanning Services: Examiners' greatest complaints with IFW, by far, relate to the multitude of scanning errors that create documents improperly entered in the file record, amendments and office actions entered days, weeks, or months late, documents filed under the wrong tabs, and more.
  • Cached Hot-Docket Images and a Hard-Drive Version of the "eDAN" electronic Desktop Application Navigator: The USPTO could avoid significant losses of examining time if it invested in programming eDAN to enable examiners to continue working from their hard drives when the main IFW system is not functioning properly.
  • Improve Handling of Non-Patent Literature (NPL) and Foreign Patents: The USPTO can improve examiner access to NPL and foreign patents, thereby improving production and quality, by: 1) identifying each NPL by first author; 2) entering each NPL into IFW in the order that the NPL is entered on the applicant's NPL list (USPTO Form 1449), which is part of the application record; 3) identifying each foreign patent by its country/serial number; and 4) increasing the eDAN annotation field to allow more notes.
  • Allow Display of Multiple Documents in a Readable Size: This means providing each examiner with a second desktop monitor.
  • Improve IFW Printing Features: Relatively simple programming solutions would reduce the number of mouse clicks and functions now necessary to print each document.
  • Program eDAN to Refresh all Dockets as Necessary: Currently examiners manually refresh each docket, which wastes time when the computer can be programmed to do this work.
  • Provide File Storage Furniture: The USPTO offered to provide examiners with printed "working folders," which contain a bare-bones number of documents that examiners can add to. But many examiners have not been supplied any file furniture in which to store them.
  • Improve Optical Character Recognition (OCR) or Supply a Searchable Text File: These would allow examiners to readily search the specifications and other documents for relevant terms, and "cut and paste" relevant information from applications into office actions. In addition, examiners overwhelmingly express a desire to be able to search text by using keywords, something not readily available with image files.
  • Better Document Tracking: By adding a data field to show the date that the contractors actually scanned and entered a document, eDAN would enable the USPTO to actually measure the contractor's performance. Now eDAN only tracks the filing date of the paper document.
  • Establish a Pilot Program for Voice-Activated Software: With eDAN's capability to support voice-activated software the agency can now offer that ability to other examiners who prefer it to test its benefits with eDAN and OACS.

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