Wednesday noon at the AIPLA 2010 Annual Meeting, USPTO Director David Kappos engaged in a “fireside chat” (actually podium-side chat) with AIPLA Executive Director and former PTO Director Q. Todd Dickinson about the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats that he has experienced since becoming Director. Regarding the 710,000 application backlog, he stated that his goal was to reduce it to a manageable 325,000, which would provide sufficient work for the current Examining staff, and the 1,000 new Examiners he said he hopes to hire over the next year. Although he did not say when this level would be reached, he also endorsed a goal of 10 months to a first action and 20 months to disposal, with an average of 2, 1 actions per case (it is now about 3 per case).
While Director Kappos endorsed the various proposals and pilot programs for accelerated examination as “important to the applicant community,” Dickinson noted that they are scarcely used at this point. Kappos also endorsed three-tiered examination and felt that the ability to defer examination for 30 months would help reduce the backlog, since applicants would abandon applications without demonstrated value. He noted that the initial proposal to limit access to applications first filed abroad had hit a storm of criticism and that it would be withdrawn or greatly curtailed.
When asked to identify the most important part of the proposed patent reform legislation, he answered “first-to-file” and said that it was his opinion that this change would benefit small entities [ed. note: Even if they don’t all seem to realize that yet]. All-in-all an engaging and quite candid “coffee talk” from this very hard-working Director.