Suit seeks to slow automation project at PTO

Charging that the Patent and Trademark Office's databases are riddled with errors, the National Intellectual Property Researchers Association late last month filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia to stop the phasing out of paper patent and trademark records.

The agency has long planned to phase out paper records, partly because it issues them in such volume'about 3,500 patents weekly, each patent ranging from 20 to 30 pages.

PTO officials said the databases are more reliable than paper records because they can be searched quickly and thoroughly.

The association said in a statement that it is not opposed in principle to patent automation. But the association asserted that maintenance of paper collections, particularly for foreign records and trademark files, is essential until automated search tools can provide results equivalent to a combined search of paper and electronic records.

PTO officials declined to comment on the suit.

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