A First Report On The USPTO’s Continuing Legal Education System (CEP)

September 25, 2008

in News

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.

Overall Impressions

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.

The Mechanics

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.

Final Comments

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+

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© 2008, Michael E. Kondoudis

The Law Office of Michael E. Kondoudis
DC Patent Attorney

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Another User September 25, 2008 at 5:47 pm

I also was a volunteer. While the content was interesting since it was from the PTO’s perspective, the KSR course provided much less information than other CLE courses on the same topic. The other two topics were quite good.

Unless the PTO’s CLE is also good for a state’s CLE requirements, I am against another government agency requiring CLE. If it does become a mandatory requirement, then practitioners shouldn’t have to pay for the PTO’s version of CLE.

mike September 25, 2008 at 8:53 pm

I am also not in favor of yet another set of CLE requirements, in addition to those imposed by states. I leave that debate for my readers and for another time, however.

Babel Boy October 28, 2008 at 3:53 pm

I volunteered, too, but my experience wasn’t as positive. I thought the organization was more like the typical EFS screw-ups. Navigation was poorly organized. For instance in some cases you were required to find and hit a link that was a .0005 font size.

You would think in this day and age there would be mandatory jail-time for any systems analyst who doesn’t accommodate Firefox.

But, as with the EFS guys, the gentleman I contacted at PTO was very friendly and very helpful.

The content and delivery were pretty good.

A number of state bar CLE providers are offering content for patent practitioners. It would be a no-brainer for the PTO to authorize that content for PTO credit. This in-house CLE program is obviously just another income-generating scam by the PTO.

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