Merkley and Four Other Senators Call for PTO to Improve Patent Quality

Well, this is good to see: Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR), joined by Senator Mark Begich (D-AK), Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) and Senator Mark Warner (D-VA), sent a letter yesterday to the Department of Commerce about patent quality.

The letter urges a few measures to improve patent quality. Here are the highlights:

  1. Review performance metrics to make sure that they emphasize quality over quantity. (There are problems with some of the metrics the PTO currently uses, as I’ll be writing about soon.)
  2. Direct examiners to make sure that the application record is clear and thorough.
  3. Assess the new guidelines and instructions on functional claiming to verify that they’re effective.

These are all excellent ideas. And it’s great that Senators are taking a direct interest in improving patent quality. They clearly get it.

The PTO has shown its willingness to listen, so the conditions for seeing real improvement in patent quality are definitely promising.