For years now, those who work in, around or with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office have said the entire system needs to be revamped. From application to award, the process can take years, and that doesn't take into account any challenges to the patent's validity after the fact.
The backlog of pending applications and other proceedings is huge largely because the agency has been underfunded and understaffed, according to patent attorney Matthew Schantz, who is a partner in the Indianapolis firm of Bingham McHale. I spoke to Schantz nearly two years ago. At the time, he told me:
I would like for [the US PTO] to hire more examiners and pay them better ... If people aren't learning to be good examiners and bringing their technology experience with them, I think it's hard for the Patent Office to develop examiners with solid backgrounds who are able to do the job efficiently.
Someone in the agency agrees and is finally in the position to act on the suggestion, it seems. Crain's Detroit Business reports the USPTO has set up an e-mail "hotline" for anyone interested in a job at its first satellite office, which is slated to open in Detroit in the spring. Writer Gary Anglebrandt explains:
The new office would allow the USPTO to tap into the pool of unemployed, highly-skilled workers, such as automotive engineers, in the Detroit area.
According to the USPTO announcement, those interested should send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Those on the list will receive job requirements, application procedures and other pertinent information when it is officially released in the spring.