Lawsuit stalls PTO automation

The Patent and Trademark Office has suspended its switch from paper to electronic record-keeping for patent search files because of a lawsuit filed by the National Intellectual Property Researchers Association.

In a letter sent recently to House Judiciary Committee chairman Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), undersecretary for intellectual property James Rogan rescinded the agency's certification that the switch to electronic systems would not affect the public negatively. He said PTO would revise its implementation plan.

'In order to permit appropriate revisions to the plan and to avoid needless, time-consuming and costly litigation. ' USPTO will resume maintenance of its paper public search collections while it revises the plan,' Rogan wrote to Sensenbrenner.

In a concurrent press release, Rogan said the patent office remains committed to adopting e-commerce technology.

The nonprofit NIPRA sued PTO in August in District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, charging that its patent databases are riddled with errors and that paper patent records still are essential to conducting proper patent searches. [To read GCN's online coverage, click here]

A patent office spokesman said the agency's plan for automation 'has always been a work in progress' and that the office continues to receive advice about how to proceed from various organizations.

NIPRA vice president Robert Weir said the court had ordered PTO to develop a consent agreement to settle the lawsuit.


  • business meeting (Monkey Business Images/

    Civic tech volunteers help states with legacy systems

    As COVID-19 exposed vulnerabilities in state and local government IT systems, the newly formed U.S. Digital Response stepped in to help. Its successes offer insight into existing barriers and the future of the civic tech movement.

  • data analytics (

    More visible data helps drive DOD decision-making

    CDOs in the Defense Department are opening up their data to take advantage of artificial intelligence and machine learning tools that help surface insights and improve decision-making.

Stay Connected