'Are We Certifiable?' Redux - A Strategic Plan for Maintaining Patent Practice Competence

April 25, 2003 Published Work
Journal of the Patent and Trademark Office Society, April 2003, Volume 85, No.4, pages 287 - 300

As part of its sweeping 21st Century Strategic Plan, the PTO proposes "Periodic Certification for Registered Practitioners" through a periodic mandatory exam, a periodic optional exam, or a combination of mandatory and optional exams. This article will review the PTO's plan, and several alternative options, before presenting the authors' proposed option. The authors' proposal features online interactive training at set intervals or as dictated by practice changes, providing instant feedback for the patent practitioner's benefit. This interactive method is particularly suited to facilitate absorption of new developments in PTO practice. The online training would be complemented by a continuing legal education (CLE) requirement. The authors believe that their proposal would promote the PTO's goal of maintaining practitioner proficiency without unduly burdening the profession.