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Annual Technical Report 2003 on Industrial Design Information Activities submitted by United States of America (SCIT/ATR/ID/2003/US)

 

Where URLs are requested below, it is preferred that either URLs which are likely to remain stable over time (three years or more) are provided, or home (main) page URLs are provided with a short explanation of how to access the corresponding information.

The expression "industrial designs" covers industrial designs and models. Offices which issue design patents should report their design patent information activities in this series of Annual Technical Reports.

 

I. Evolution of registration activities

The USPTO issues design patents and does not register industrial designs. However, US design patent information is included in this report since WIPO has requested that “Offices which issue design patents should report their design patent information activities in this series of Annual Technical Reports.”

Changes experienced in terms of application filings and grants (registrations) with respect to the previous year

In calendar year (CY) 2003, the USPTO granted 16,574 design patents an increase of 7 percent from the number granted in CY 2002. The share of grants having foreign origin, as determined by the residence of the first-named inventor, was 39.4 percent for CY 2003, down from 39.6 percent for CY 2002. The top patenting organizations receiving design patents in CY 2003 were Sony Corporation (154 design patents), Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd. (125 design patents), Nokia Corporation (120 design patents), Hon Hai Precision Ind. Co., Ltd. (93 design patents), and Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company (89 design patents).

There were 22,602 design patent applications filed at the USPTO in CY 2003, up 8 percent from CY 2002. The CY 2003 share of applications having foreign origin, as determined by the residence of the first-named inventor, is 39.3 percent, up from 37.8 percent for CY 2002.

Trends or areas experiencing rapid changes with respect to the previous year

Among the highly active design patent areas for calendar year (CY) 2003, the number of design patent grants in ' Photography and Optical Equipment' increased by 46 percent, the number of design patent grants in ' Packages and Containers for Goods' increased by 28 percent, and the number of design patents in ' Equipment for Preparing or Serving Food or Drink Not Elsewhere Specified' increased by 25 percent over the number of grants for CY 2002.

II. Matters concerning the generation, reproduction, and distribution of industrial design documents and of secondary sources of industrial design information, i.e., official gazettes

Publishing, including printing, copying techniques and electronic printing

There are no new developments to report for calendar year 2003.

Main types of announcements of the Office in the field of industrial design information

There are no new developments to report for calendar year 2003.

Mass storage media and microforms used

In 1998, USPTO established an Internet database with access to the full-text and images of patents from 1976 forward, consisting of two terabytes of full-page images and 120GB of searchable full-text. In 2000, USPTO acquired an additional 2 terabytes of storage and added images of all US patents from 1790 through 1975. Presently, almost four terabytes of full-page image data for all patents from 1790 to the present is stored on these devices at USPTO and accessible from the Internet, along with 200GB of patent numbers and current US classifications for all patents from 1790 through 1975, as well as searchable full-text for all patents from 1976 to the present. In addition, 4.5 terabytes of storage have been deployed for patent pre-grant data (PGPub). The PGPub storage is needed to meet legislative mandates issued in 1998, in the American Inventor Protection Act (AIPA), which requires the timely granting of patents and the early publication of applications.

Databases and office automation

EAST and WEST search clients provide access to text information available back to 1920. Images of all USPTO Design Patents are available in either EAST or WEST with access through domestic and/or international classification assignments.

III. Matters concerning classifying, reclassifying and indexing of industrial design information according to the classification systems applied

Classification and reclassification activities; Classification system used, e.g., International Classification for Industrial Designs (Locarno Classification), other classification (please indicate whether industrial designs are classified by your Office and, if so, which classification is used)

All design patents that issued from 2002 on include both a US Patent Classification designation and a Locarno International Classification designation. The EAST and WEST search systems available within the USPTO and at selected Patent and Trademark Depository Libraries provide the capability for searching for US Patent documents with either a US or a Locarno classification designation.

The USPTO maintains a concordance between the United States Patent Classification System and the Locarno International Classification System. This concordance is updated to reflect new subclasses established in the design patent search file as part of the reclassification of US design patent documents.

Formal definitions have been published for all mainline subclasses and will be published for any newly established subclasses in design classes. The purpose of formal definitions is to clarify the type and scope of subject matter contained in a class or subclass. Formal definitions may include search notes that aid in locating additional areas in the USPC system pertinent to specific subject matter. Classification definitions are available at the URL below:
http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/ac/ido/oeip/taf/def/index.htm

Further information about the use of the US Patent Classification System is available at:
http://www.uspto.gov/web/menu/pats.html

Bibliographic data and processing for search purposes

Currently, USPTO provides full text search of US patents back to 1970. In 2002, USPTO provided text access to US patents issued prior to 1970. This was done using unperfected OCR data. All these documents have corresponding images available for review by examiners. It is expected that examiners will identify relevant documents by text searching the OCR file, but will use the document images to determine applicability to applications under review. Examiners can also retrieve text and images via a classified search (U.S. patent classification, IPC or Locarno code).

IV. Search file establishment and upkeep

File building

By the end of calendar year 2003, the total number of US Design Patents increased by 16,574 for a total of 483, 941 documents. An average of 318 design patent documents issued each week and were added to the search file.

OCR File

Using Optical Character Recognition, the USPTO has captured the text of all U.S. patents back to 1790, which is approximately 3.9 million additional documents. This text has not been perfected and contains mistakes in reading letters, and does not associate the data with the fields in the search system. It is being characterized as the “dirty OCR data.” The dirty OCR’ed text of the U.S. patent backfile was provided to the Computer Search System (CSS) project and loaded into the EAST and WEST search systems in 2000-2001. Initial examiner access to the OCR backfile was provided via the WEST (Web-based Examiner Search Tool) interface in October 2001; it was available in EAST (Examiner’s Automated Search Tool) in January 2002. In FY 2002, the USPTO added “clean” bibliographic data to the backfile. The OCR patent back file will be made available for exchange with the USPTO’s International partners and for sale to commercial customers.

NPL

Development of a database of examiner-identified NPL continued. The database currently contains NPL on business methods, telecommunications, and nanotechnology. Each document in the database has been assigned an EPO XP number, to facilitate potential inclusion in the EPO's NPL database. The types of documents submitted by examiners include journal articles, portions of books, documents from the Internet, advertisements, press releases, and standards. The database has been available to examiners since 2002.

USPTO examiners have desktop access to over 6,000 journals in electronic format as well as several thousand electronic books

In 2001, registered industrial design images of CD-ROM from the International Bureau and the Japanese Patent Office became available for access by design patent examiners.

Updating

Concurrent with the publication of each new design Patent in the Official Gazette, copies are added to the electronic search files.

Also, see File Building above.

Storage, including mass storage media

In FY 1997 and FY 1998, the USPTO installed 42 terabytes of Redundant Arrays of Independent Disk (RAID) magnetic disk storage systems to process patent, trademark, and other business data electronically. In FY 1999 through FY 2001 additional capacity was acquired that doubled the amount of online magnetic storage available. USPTO is continuing its partnership with EMC Corporation for server attached and Storage Area Network (SAN) storage devices. With a long-term lease agreement, USPTO will acquire over 400 TB of raw disk capacity by FY 2004. Managing this storage will require continued vendor support, and implementation of storage management tools. In FY 2004 and FY 2005 USPTO will extend the SAN to support the agency move to Carlyle and enhance disaster recovery capabilities.

Documentation from other offices maintained and/or considered part of the available search file

Gazette type publications of design registrations from over 37 nations or international organizations are available to examiners. These publications are generally maintained in the Design Library or the USPTO Scientific and Technical Information Center (STIC).

A collection of non-patent literature is available to examiners in the Design Library and the main STIC facility. Non-patent literature includes commercial publications, catalogs, magazines, advertising fliers, technical publications and other information pertinent to the 33 classes for industrial designs in the United States Patent Classification system. Additionally, the Scientific and Technical Information Center provides complete library services that include links to libraries nation-wide, literature acquisition as requested, and cataloging of literature received. The literature in the collection can be searched via an on-line catalog maintained by the STIC.

V. Activities in the field of computerized search systems for industrial designs

In-house systems (online/offline)

Design examiners at the USPTO have the same search tools as utility examiners. The International Patent Classification field that is part of the text search system can also be used to search Locarno classifications for industrial design patents, but is not frequently used by USPTO examiners.

External databases

The STIC performs searches for the design examiners on commercial online databases when requested. They also search for resources on the Internet that are appropriate for design examiners.

Administrative management systems (e.g., register, legal status, statistics, administrative support, etc.)

Patents Location and Monitoring System (PALM) Migration

USPTO continued the phased subsystem delivery with successful delivery of the first subsystem (Infrastructure) in October 1998. The second subsystem (File Ordering) was delivered in October 1999. The third subsystem (Pre-examination system) was delivered in February 2000. The PALM project schedule has been impacted by implementation of the American Inventors Protection Act. All PALM related systems went through a major upgrade to support Legislation for the Pre Grant Publication of Application (PG Pub). This release was deployed throughout the USPTO on 29 November 2000. Exam Post-Exam (EXPO) is the project name for the final migration of the PALM system from the A-16 computer. EXPO encompasses the functionality of Examination, Post Examination and Patent Term Adjustment and was deployed in Fall 2001.

PALM on PTOnet

All Patent Examiners have been provided further access to the current Management Information System on their desktop PC via barcode readers and a web browser interface. This system has been found to provide increased case tracking accuracy. No future enhancements are planned until PALM Migration is completed.

Equipment used (hardware, including the types of terminal and network used, and software), data carriers used

PTOnet has an architecture consisting of a campus wide Gigabit Ethernet switched backbone with edge device switches providing switched Ethernet connection for individual workstations. Currently, PTOnet users have dedicated 100 Mbps switched Ethernet connections.

PTOnet provides examiners and other staff with access to the Internet through dual-redundant firewalls. Access zones implemented via firewalls and proxy servers have been implemented to provide a limited amount of controlled access to PTOnet resources for external users. Additional external access capabilities are being developed through implementation of a variety of access control mechanisms including digital certificate based authentication supported by a full Public Key Infrastructure (PKI).

VI. Administration of industrial design services available to the public (relating to facilities, e.g., for lodging applications, registering designs, assisting clients with search procedures, obtaining official publications and registry extracts)

Planning, administration, automation, security

These functions are provided by the Design Library in cooperation with STIC whenever necessary.

Collection management, preservation

The STIC purchases and catalogs all non-patent materials purchased, and maintains the Design Library collection under the Design Group’s guidance. The STIC receives design patent materials from sixteen countries via exchange agreement. These documents are kept in the Design Library except for materials received from two of the countries that include other patent documents together with the design documents. These materials are kept in the Main STIC.

Information services available to the public (including computerized services and search files contained in libraries remote from your Office and industrial design information posted by your Office on the World Wide Web).

The USPTO Web site at http://www.uspto.gov/ contains information about the office and information about patents and trademarks. It also provides access to searchable databases of patent and trademark information, and to tools that assist users in obtaining information.

In October 2000, the USPTO began accepting filing of Patent applications electronically from client-based software. The USPTO currently receives approximately 2% of all Patent applications from this software. The USPTO is exploring the use of web-based tools to enhance this e-filing project.

Patent and Trademark application status information are both available from the USPTO website. Both of these databases are searchable and are updated on a daily basis.

In November 1995, the USPTO began providing access to patent grant bibliographic information and abstract text on its Web Site. This raw data is available for FTP downloading with updates occurring each Tuesday issue date.

In March 2001, the USPTO began providing access to patent application bibliographic information and abstract text on its Web Site. This raw data is available for FTP downloading with updates occurring each Thursday publication date.

In November 1998, the USPTO began providing access to the searchable, full text of US patents granted from January 1976 to the present. Updates occur each Tuesday issue date.

In March 2001, the USPTO began providing access to the searchable, full text of US published patent applications from March 15, 2001 to the present. Updates occur each Thursday publication date.

Copies of Design patents continue to be provided to the 86 libraries in the USPTO’s Patent and Trademark Depository Library (PTDL) Program in optical disc formats. Online access to Design patents is made available to the 28 PTDLs that have access to WEST, and the three Partnership PTDLs that have access to EAST and WEST. The Partnership PTDLs also offer additional fee-based services. All PTDLs also provide public access to the USPTO web site that contains a searchable database of Design patents. A list of current PTDLs can be found at the PTDLP Web site located at www.uspto.gov/go/ptdl. The Web site includes information about the Program’s mission, history, background, services, and core collections, as well as links to the Program’s publications, materials, and reference tools. Each of the 86 PTDLs is linked from the PTDL List available from the Web site.

Automated Information in Patent and Trademark Depository Libraries

Web-based online searching for the patent text and image database is available at the 28 PTDLs that have access to WEST.

The USPTO continues to provide optical disc products to PTDLs for direct public use. This includes all Cassis optical disc products; Patents BIB, Patents CLASS, Patents ASSIST, Patents & Trademarks ASSIGN, Trademarks BIB, Trademarks ASSIST, USAPat, USAApp, and USAMark.

Partnership PTDLs in Sunnyvale, California, College Station, Texas and Detroit, Michigan offer fee-based access to selected USPTO’s in-house automated systems. These systems include WEST, EAST, and X-Search. Other PTDL Partnership services include electronic ordering of US and foreign patent documents, on-site and videoconference practitioner and public seminars, and a secure videoconferencing capability between patent examiners and inventors and/or attorneys.

Automated Information in Patent Public Search Facilities

In 2003, public access to automated information continued via the Universal Public Workstation (UPWS), a secured access computer providing a single platform and consistent interface to all databases. Public versions (no access to external databases) of the patent examiner search systems EAST and WEST, and document image print WALK-UP are the heaviest used applications provided on UPWS. Other patent applications on UPWS include the USPTO Web site, DVD-ROM Cassis titles, Assignments Historical Database (AHD) and Patent Assignment Information Retrieval (PAIR). Both EAST and WEST retrieve all U.S. patent images and word search the text contained in U.S. patents granted since 1971. The Optical Character Recognition application allows searching of U.S. patents both text and images back to 1920. EAST and WEST also provide text searching of English language patent abstracts from the European Patent Office and Japan Patent Office, and a set of foreign patent images formerly available only on CD-ROM. Public access to these search systems continues to grow. An average of 791 unique customers used the systems monthly, with a high of 855 users in July 2003. There were an average of 10,937 sessions monthly. This averages 365 patent sessions per day in the patent search facilities.

The number of workstations has increased significantly in the Patent Search Room, from six in 1999, to 158 in December 2003. Session fees were suspended in October 1999 to encourage electronic searching; however, print fees are collected at the UPWS workstations via online accounts. There are no wait lines at this time with the increased in the number of workstations and availability from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday.

An eight-hour training course for novice or first time patent users is available to the public on the WEST system. A four-hour course for advanced users is available on the EAST system. Courses are scheduled once a month for a nominal fee, or more often as needed. Special one-page guides and Helpful Hints are available in the on-line search areas. Individual assistance is always available from staff.

The Re-examination file system REPS was introduced into the Patent Search Room in February 2000. Re-exam files may be browsed and images printed from a stand-alone REPS workstation and printer. 460,577 pages from 459 files were printed in 2003. As CD-ROM titles have migrated to wider access of UPWS, the number of workstations accessing the public CD-ROM Local Area Network in the Patent Search Room has been reduced to 3. These provide access to all USPTO’s archival CD-ROM image retrieval products USAPAT and Assignments.

Automated Products Provided to the Public

The USPTO’s Office of Electronic Information Products continues to provide patent information products and services to the public in a variety of formats. The Products and Services Catalog on the USPTO website describes USPTO products and services, and contains details on how to obtain them.

The following CD-ROM products are available for purchase by the public:

Patents BIB: Selected Bibliographic Information from US Patents Issued 1969 to Present

This Cassis DVD-ROM contains bibliographic information for utility patents issued from 1969 to the present, and for other types of patent documents issued from 1977 to the present. It includes inventor names and addresses (if unassigned at time of issue), assignee at time of issue, status (i.e., withdrawn, corrected, expired for failure to pay maintenance fees, reexamined or term extended), current classifications, patent title, and patent abstracts from September 1988 to date. Patents BIB also refers to patent image locations on USAPat, described below. This DVD-ROM product is updated every two months.

Patents CLASS: Current Classifications of US Patents Issued 1790 to Present

This Cassis DVD-ROM contains current classification information for all utility, design, plant, reissue and X-numbered patents, as well as defensive publications and statutory invention registrations issued from 1790 to the present (over 6 million documents). Indexing of classification information has been optimized for rapid retrieval. This DVD-ROM product is updated every two months.

Patents and Trademarks ASSIGN: US Patents and Trademarks Assignments Recorded at the USPTO 1980 August to Present

This Cassis DVD-ROM includes data derived from assignment deeds for issued patents and registered trademarks, which were recorded at the Patent and Trademark Office after August 1980 for patents, and since 1955 for trademarks. The disc includes assignments recorded before and after the patent issued. This DVD-ROM product is updated every two months. This product is the combination of two previous titles, Patents ASSIGN and Trademarks ASSIGN, now no longer published.

Patents ASSIST: Full Text of Patent Search Tools

This Cassis DVD-ROM is a compilation of many patent search tools including the following: Manual of Classification, Index to the US Patent Classification, Manual of Patent Examining Procedure, IPC - USPC Concordance, and Attorneys and Agents Registered to Practice Before the US Patent and Trademark Office. In addition, Classification Definitions, a Patentee-Assignee Index, and a Classification Orders Index are included. The Patentee-Assignee Index shows ownership at time of issue for utility patents 1969 to present; for other patent types 1977 to present; and inventor names 1975 to present. The Classification Orders Index is a list of classifications abolished and established since 1976 with corresponding Classification Order number and effective date. This DVD- ROM product is updated every three months.

Manual of Patent Examining Procedure (MPEP)

This Manual is published to provide US Patent and Trademark Office patent examiners, applicants, attorneys, agents, and representatives of applicants with a reference work on the practices and procedures relative to the prosecution of patent applications before the Patent and Trademark Office. The MPEP is available in electronic form as an ASCII text file downloadable (no charge) from the USPTO Web site on the Internet at http://www.uspto.gov/, and as a searchable text file on the Patents ASSIST DVD-ROM product, which includes many other useful files. Each revision is fully incorporated into the base edition and republished as a whole.

USAPat: Facsimile Images of United States Patents

This Cassis DVD-ROM product contains facsimile images of US patents from 1790 to present. An “image” is an actual page of the patent, including all drawings, and looks just like the original printed document. The purpose of USAPat is to serve as a document delivery system, not as a search system. Retrieval is by document number only from a cumulative index. Excellent printed copies of actual documents can be obtained directly from a laser printer. Delivery of weekly discs is usually within 15 days from issue date.

USAApp: Facsimile Images of United States Patent Application Publications

USAApp contains facsimile images of the U.S. patent application publications filed on or after November 29, 2000 and published weekly beginning March 15, 2001. A new law effective November 29, 1999, requires publication of patent applications approximately 18 months after the effective filing date. All utility and plant patent applications will be published unless the application is not filed in another country and the applicant expressly requests that the application not be published, or the patent has been granted. Design patent applications will not be published. An "image" looks like an actual page of the application, including all drawings. USAApp is a document delivery system, not a search system. Retrieval is by document number only from a cumulative index. Excellent printed copies can be obtained directly from a laser printer.

Electronic Official Gazette of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office – Patents (eOG:P)

The eOG:P began publication in July 2002 on both the USPTO Web site (free) and on CD-ROM (subscription). In September 2002, the eOG:P replaced the paper Official Gazette that had been published since 1872. The eOG:P contains the OG record, including exemplary claim and a representative image (if applicable). Indexes by type of patent (e.g., utility, design), patentee name (both inventor and assignee), geographical location of the first listed inventor (U.S. state or country), and classification are provided. The eOG:P is available each Tuesday.

The USPTO maintains World Wide Web (WWW) and File Transfer Protocol (ftp) sites on the Internet, which permit the public free access to selected information related to patents and trademarks.

VII. Matters concerning mutual exchange of industrial design documentation and information

International or regional cooperation in the exchange of industrial design information, e.g., in the form of official gazettes

The USPTO maintains exchange agreements with many intellectual property offices for the exchange of industrial design registrations and gazettes and continually seeks to expand the number of such exchanges.

Intellectual property offices have access to the US patent documents, including design patents, on USAPat DVD-ROM. The USPTO began distributing its Official Gazette for Patents only in electronic format (eOG:P) on CD-ROM and on its website (see above for details) in 2002. Design patents are included in the Official Gazette for Patents.

Exchange of machine-readable information, e.g., data contained on CD-ROM or magnetic tape

CD/DVD-ROM products including, but not limited to, design patent images and information are sent to 114 intellectual property offices (see descriptions of the products above).

The USPTO currently exchanges patent images and information on magnetic computer tapes with the EPO and JPO as part of a Trilateral Agreement.

VIII. Matters concerning education and training including technical assistance to developing countries

Training courses for national and foreign participants

The USPTO provides technical training relevant to intellectual property law and patent and trademark practice for all attorneys and patent examiners. Additionally, a variety of technical classes are available dealing with search techniques on the USPTO automated system and methods of using a variety of custom computer software to assist in the examination process.

The USPTO participates in a two week Visiting Scholars Program. Here the USPTO hosts patent professionals from offices worldwide and presents them with training on patents, trademarks, copyrights, and related procedural and operational issues.

The USPTO also operates a televideo-conference facility. This has been used to broadcast live meetings and lectures with officials in foreign countries.

Assistance to developing countries (sending consultants and experts, receiving trainees from developing countries, etc.)

The USPTO offers various programs to provide technical assistance to developing countries and to countries moving to a market economy. Programs focus on establishing adequate systems in these countries for the protection of intellectual property rights. They also provide intellectual protection enforcement training. With the exception of the Visiting Scholars Program, the USPTO programs usually last one week. The goal of the programs is to provide advice and expertise to these countries with the desired outcome being the reduction of losses resulting from piracy of U.S. intellectual property.

The USPTO was engaged on a number of fronts to strengthen IP administration and enforcement abroad. The USPTO hosted the “USPTO/WIPO Asia and Pacific Program for the Judiciary on Intellectual property Rights Enforcement” in Washington, D.C. for members of the appellate and Supreme court judiciary from Asia and the Pacific region on IPR protection and enforcement. The USPTO also organized a program with the Jordan Intellectual Property Association, the International Intellectual Property Institute, the Court of Appeals for the federal Circuit, and George Washington University Law School I Amman, Jordan to celebrate IP week. More than 300 lawyers, government officials, and other interested Jordanians attended this four-day program.

The Visiting Scholars and Enforcement Programs for 2003 provided participants from Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Republic of Korea, India, Romania, Taiwan, China, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Philippines, Turkey, Albania, Algeria, Bosnia, Brazil, Cape Verde, Croatia, Hungary, Jamaica, Kuwait, Macedonia, Morocco, Namibia, Nepal, Serbia/Montenegro, and Tunisia with classroom and hands on study of various aspects of the administration of intellectual property law, patent and trademark examination and copyright protection, enforcement of intellectual property laws, and an opportunity to gain an understanding of the important tool of intellectual property protection as a tool for economic development.

For the second year, a USPTO official served on temporary assignment to the U.S. Embassy in Beijing to assist the embassy and U.S. rights holders on IPR issues in the People’s Republic of China.

IX. Other relevant matters