I recently completed participation in the USPTO’s new pilot continuing legal education system called “Continuing Education for Practitioners” (CEP). As I explained in my earlier post on the CEP system, the USPTO solicited volunteers to try out their new CLE system. I volunteered, was selected, and, as promised, the following is my report on the pilot program.
The CEP system is very well done. The web interface was easy to navigate. The content was useful. Plus, each training course was divided into several discrete modules with test questions at the completion of each module. This format permits a practitioner to break up a lesson into discrete sessions of about 10 minutes each. The ability to break up a course into these smaller sessions is a great feature, in my opinion. The combination of easy navigation and the option of short sessions made the system very user friendly.
Each training course comprised a video presentation presented with PowerPoint slides that reinforced the main points of emphasis. The courses were straightforward, efficient, and easy to follow. The presenters were members of the USPTO’s Office of Patent Legal Administration and they did an adequate job (but did seem a bit comfortable). I hope that the Office uses professional speakers when it officially rolls out the system.
Three training courses were available; KSR, Petitions, and Signatures and Oaths. I took the KSR course and most of the course on signatures and oaths. Both courses included a lot of practical information.
To begin the process, a user inputs their unique user name and password provided by the Office of Enrollment and Discipline (EOD) into a web interface, then is asked to confirm various contact information. In addition, the user is presented with a “CEP SUMMARY” with dates, completed courses, and fees owed. (That’s right, practitioners may very well have to pay for their CLE).
Next, a user accesses the Training Course(s) and can select from the various training courses offered. The KSR course was labeled as mandatory while the other courses were labeled strongly recommended.
After selecting a Training Course, the user is presented with an interface that includes a video presentation in the upper right, a thumbnail list of slides below the video presentation, and a larger version of the slide that accompanies a given portion of the video presentation.
After each module, the user is presented with “verification” questions about the subject matter presented. The questions are multiple choice and a pass rate of 70% is required to “complete” a module. Lastly, after passing a module, the user has the option of continuing on with the next module.
The USPTO has done a good job with the CEP system. In fact, with all due respect, I was surprised with the high quality of the system. As far as CLE goes, the CEP system looks like a fairly painless way to accomplish it. In the end, what more can we expect?
Final Grade: B+
© 2008, Michael E. Kondoudis
The Law Office of Michael E. Kondoudis
DC Patent Attorney