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Archived updates for Friday, July 29, 2005

USPTO Announces New Reexamination Unit

In a press release issued on July 29, 2005, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) announced that it has implemented a new process for handling reexamination proceedings. Under the new policy, "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."

More specifically, however, all reexaminations have been reassigned to a central reexamination unit, except for those where an initial decision has been made which will remain with the examiner originally assigned to the reexamination. The new, 20-examiner unit began operation earlier this week and is also receiving all new requests for reexamination. Prior to the new initiative, reexamination cases were assigned to examiners according to technology, and often went back to the same examiner that originally allowed the claims under reexamination. The USPTO hopes that using dedicated examiners who are assigned to the same unit will enhance the quality and reduce the time of reexaminations by allowing the USPTO to monitor reexamination operations more effectively.

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. The announcement did not address whether reexaminations filed by a losing party (or their strawman) after a full trial on the merits would receive any special treatment.
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