More cooks for the patent office broth

The USPTO seems willing to consider innovative means of reducing administrative problems – they have decided to review suggestions from students of the George Washington University School of Business. In what promises to be an interesting as well as productive endeavour the “winners of the George Washington University (GWU) School of Business 2008 International Business Case Competition met recently with USPTO senior management to present their proposed solutions to the pressing issues of patent pendency and backlog at the USPTO.”

The competition brought together 18 teams of MBA students from around the world to provide recommendations on how to solve the challenges of pendency and backlog at the USPTO, the first federal agency to serve as a case study for the competition.

“Serving as a case study for the competition has given us the opportunity to gain the insights of MBA students and outside judges with fresh perspectives on our agency’s challenges. We found these students were able to see concepts, relationships and potential solutions from non-traditional angles.” said USPTO Deputy Director Margaret J.A. Peterlin. “We appreciated the recommendations of these business students as they applied their business operations coursework to our actual challenges.”

There is a valuable lesson here for the Indian Patent Office which is handicapped by problems of backlogs, high attrition rates and lack of adequately trained and qualified man power. I’d like to quote Sai Deepak’s post here:

The patent office is struggling to cope as applications rise. Despite the increased workload, the four offices that handle examinations — Kolkata, Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai — have under 200 examiners in total. Recruitment has proved difficult and the attrition rate is high: the Mumbai Mirror reported in August 2007 that one-fifth of staff had left their posts in the previous two years.

Other opportunities for reform and suggestion lie in issues regularly covered by SpicyIP like the need for more transparency on which Prashant had posted earlier.

Apart from helping to find solutions for existing problems the input of business students may also be an aid to the implementation of the numerous reforms planned for the Indian Patent Office. Fresh perspectives on the operation and feasibility of the Indian Patent Database, or inputs on recruitment, management and functioning from the perspective of a business student may be what is needed to bring increased professionalism and efficiency to the Indian Patent Office.


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