Joff Wild

In an exclusive video interview with IAM recorded at the IP Business Congress in Munich, USPTO director David Kappos has acknowledged that the office still has plenty of work to do to improve the quality of the patents that it grants. Responding to the findings of the recently published IAM/Thomson Reuters benchmarking survey that show issued US patents are thought to be of lower quality than those granted by the EPO and the JPO, Kappos admitted that he's not happy that the USPTO is lagging behind the other two trilateral offices. However, he stated that there has been an improvement in standards. "Patent quality is not where I want it to be - and that is why we are putting so much effort into it. But I actually believe - both as a user of the system and now as the director of the USPTO - that US patent quality is moving in the right direction. But has it moved as far as I want it to? No."

During the interview Kappos talked about the changes he has implemented since he took over the running of the office in August last year and explained the thinking behind the recently proposed three-track examination process. Among other things, he also spoke about a new deal with USPTO unions on performance standards for examiners and hit back at those who have accused him of not supporting proposed legislation that would bring about an end to diversion and see the USPTO get fee raising authority. Other points of note include:

• The overall allowance rate at the USPTO has gone up by three percentage points over recent months.

• There are record numbers of US patents being issued, but the number of rejections is also at an all-time high.

• The rate of interviews between examiners and applicants has increased by 60% since the beginning of 2010. 

Click here to watch the interview in full.