By Trevor Little
March 24 2010
US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) director David Kappos has finally turned his attention from patents to trademarks, revealing plans to offer full service electronic processing. The IT overhaul provides trademark owners with a rare opportunity to present a wish list of demands to the organization.
On his blog this week, Kappos outlined the welcome goal of providing a trademark system that is “faster, more practical, much more feature-rich, and reliable for both the public and our staff”. Futuristically titled ‘Trademarks Next Generation’, the aim is to provide trademark applicants and owners such features as the ability to manage applications and registrations online, as well as an automated watch service to notify requestors of status changes in applications and registrations.
He explains, in similarly high-tech language: “Virtualization and cloud computing are now industry standard in IT solutions, and we want to take advantage of this technology in our aim to provide full end-to-end electronic processing for trademarks. Harnessing this technology necessitates a redesign of our present system, giving us the opportunity to further functionality, flexibility and mobility for our users.”
In December 2008, the Trademark Public Advisory Committee report outlined the need for better electronic systems at the USPTO (see "High praise for USPTO in independent annual report"), and electronic capability has remained a concern for users. The redesign of the existing architecture now gives trademark owners a rare opportunity to present their functionality wish list to the USPTO, with Kappos actively encouraging ideas and suggestions from users (which can be emailed to TMideas@uspto.gov).
As anyone with experience of IT overhauls knows, the process of change could be long and painful. However, the move should be welcomed and, with such fundamental reviews infrequently undertaken, it could be some time before trademark owners are given another opportunity to have their say on what they want from their office’s IT systems.
Since taking office, Kappos has been much more vocal on the challenges facing patents. Given the current patent backlog (see "Addressing the patent backlog critical to the efficient running of the USPTO") this is perhaps understandable but it is good to see that the ‘T’ in USPTO is not being neglected.
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