I received a communication from the USPTO today concerning future refinements to the CEP program. As you will recall, I reported on my participation in that pilot program in an earlier post here.
From the Office of Enrollment and Discipline:
Thank you for volunteering to participate in the USPTO Continuing Education for Practitioners Pilot Program. Comments and suggestions provided by pilot participants have provided valuable insight for future improvements in the system.
USPTO continuing education courses are intended to be a free source of information concerning recent changes to USPTO rules and procedures, revised patent statutes, and helpful hints concerning practice before the USPTO. The CEP Pilot Program presented three educational courses: (1) USPTO Examination Guidelines Following KSR v. Teleflex; (2) Common Errors in Petitions Practice; and (3) Electronic Signatures and Powers of Attorney in the USPTO. Additional courses are planned based on the suggestions provided during the CEP Pilot Program.
A total of 864 registered patent practitioners (652 attorneys, 212 agents) were accepted as volunteers to participate in the CEP Pilot Program. Of the 864 volunteers, 513 (59.4%) completed the program by the September 23 initial deadline. A total of 669 volunteers (77.4%) completed the program by the September 30 extended deadline, and 195 (22.6%) did not complete the full program as of October 1. Among registered patent agents, the completion rate was 176 of 212 (83.0%); the completion rate among registered patent attorneys was 493 of 652 (75.6%). A total of 764 volunteers (88.4%) accessed the system during the course of the pilot.
Four hundred six (406) volunteers provided written feedback concerning the CEP program. In general, users indicated they liked hearing the USPTO perspective on matters and helpful hints on practice before the office. Course content and presentation received high grades, but participants noted a number of areas where delivery of the courses through the Learning Management System could be improved.
The USPTO is working on system improvements to address concerns and suggestions provided by the pilot participants. For example, a large number of volunteers requested that slides be made available for printing prior to viewing the accompanying video; we plan to do so. Additionally, navigation between the video segments and the verification questions should be improved, user access to the courses after the user has completed the course should become more straightforward, and low-bandwidth versions of the courses will be prepared. Future CEP courses will be developed in accordance with subjects suggested by participants.
Final rules concerning Continuing Education for Practitioners are currently under consideration. Further announcements will be made as developments occur.
Again, thank you for you assistance in helping to develop a CEP program that will be a useful asset to patent practitioners.
So, it appears that the USPTO is developing additional courses and will be moving forward with this requirement for continuing education.
© 2009, Michael E. Kondoudis
The Law Office of Michael E. Kondoudis
DC Patent Attorney