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Posts Tagged: "IG"

The Inspector General’s Report Alleging PTO Examiner Time and Attendance Abuse Has No Merit

On August 31, 2016, the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) of the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) released a report titled Investigative Report on Analysis of Patent Examiners’ Time and Attendance, (the Report). The Report lacks a sound statistical basis for its conclusions and recommendations. It should be withdrawn and its errors corrected before further dissemination. Otherwise, the OIG’s credibility will be irreparably damaged and it will deserve not to be taken seriously by the public, the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (PTO), or other DOC operating units.

Hearing on Examiner Fraud a Big, Fat Nothing Burger

Prepared statements released in advance of the hearing talked tough, but that was pretty much it. Insofar as getting to the root of the problems identified in the IG report the hearing turned out to be a big, fat nothing burger. I guess when the fraud is only 2% of the hours worked that is seen as a moral victory and a sign of good government. Perhaps 2% fraud in government is the best we can expect, but if you dig even one fraction of a level deeper within the IG report you will notice that almost 45% of those hours characterized as fraudulent were claimed by fewer than 5% of patent examiners. How is it possible that less than 5% of patent examiners accounted for nearly half of the fraudulent hours identified by the Inspector General? If there are valid reasons that the many hard working, conscientious examiners might be working and not logged in then why are so many of these questionable hours disproportionately being claimed by only a small number of patent examiners?

House Judiciary subcommittee questions Lee on preventing time and attendance abuse at USPTO

“My team and I do not tolerate time and attendance abuse,” Lee told the subcommittee. While she did note that the USPTO had taken disciplinary actions against examiners that have abused time and attendance reports, such actions ranging from counseling to expulsion and repayment for hours not worked, she added that there was evidence that instances of time and attendance abuse were not widespread. She cited a report on the USPTO’s telework program issued by the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) in July 2015. The report found that “It would appear to be unlikely that [time and attendance] abuse is widespread or unique to teleworkers, and it does not appear to reflect the actions of the workforce as a whole.” Additionally, the report indicated that the agency’s telework program saved the agency $7 million each year on average by allowing examiners to continue working in spite of government shutdowns caused by weather or other reasons.

Biased Report Chastises USPTO for Insufficient Quality Control

A fair treatment of the issue of patent quality would have necessarily considered those applicants that were wrongfully denied, as well as the extraordinary wait one must endure on appeal to the Patent Trial and Appeal Board to rectify examiner mistakes. Anything short of a fair and even-handed inquiry is not only inappropriate, but seems intended to lead to a conclusion that supports a preordained narrative. Sadly, this preordained narrative fits perfectly into the view of one side of the patent reform debate. With Congress considering patent reform in both the House and Senate the timing on the release of this one-sided report seems hardly coincidental.