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Abstract

The mission of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is to ensure that the Intellectual Property system contributes to a strong global economy, encourages investment in innovation, and fosters entrepreneurial spirit. In order to ensure that the large volume of newly filed patent applications are examined in a reasonable timeframe, the USPTO has a system for determining the average amount of time an examiner should spend examining a patent application. Under the current production system, productivity is assessed based on Production Units (“PUs”) achieved relative to the Examiner’s production goal. The production goal is calculated for each examiner based on the number of “Examining Hours” worked in the evaluation period and quantitative values assigned to examiner seniority and complexity of the technology examined. To quantify “Production Units”, a Patent Examiner receives different “counts” for different tasks performed at different stages in prosecution. Understanding this examiner production system - also known as “count” system - is important at least because it educates a patent applicant on the system in which Patent Examiners operate. For instance, the Examiner production system underscores the importance of the events conducted in the early stages of patent prosecution. The goal of this note is to provide an overview of the system in which Patent Examiners operate by summarizing important aspects of the system currently used to evaluate the performance of a Patent Examiner.

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