USPTO latest agency looking to outsource their data (Cross-Posted from FGI)

Our friend James Jacobs wrote the following post on his really informative Free Government Information blog.  Given the timeliness of this posting, we will cross-post it here:

Carl Malamud made me aware (see his letter to USPTO CIO John Owens) of a posting on FedBizOpps of a Request for Information (RFI) from the US Patent and Trademark Office:

“This RFI seeks to obtain information from interested parties, including the vendor community, about potential opportunities to acquire patent and trademark data in bulk (my emphasis) and to provide such data to the public without cost. The USPTO is seeking comments on the identified problem and solutions that will make the data available to the public without charge.”

While there is mention in the RFI of IP data being easily accessible to the public, there’s no mention of This seems to be purely a “no-cost” way for USPTO to upgrade their IT infrastructure by giving away public domain information.

This is worrisome on so many levels as it is just one more example of a government agency looking to outsource and privatize public domain information *and* its IT infrastructure — see for example the Thomson West contract with the GAO to digitize their legislative histories. Additionally, in a vague nod to transparency, USPTO will be holding 1 (yes only 1) vendor information meeting on Sept 24. I’m not sure how USPTO thinks that a 2 week notice for a meeting held in DC will help the cause of transparency. Shouldn’t they have several meetings in different geographic locations to talk about such a huge and important public resource (nearly 2 petabytes of data!!)?

Luckily, this is only at the RFI stage, not RFP stage. USPTO is currently only looking for information on how to do this. This is the time for the government information/transparency communities to submit ideas for how the USPTO could make their patent information available *without* giving it away to vendors. Please contact the USPTO at the addresses below and give them ideas for making their data open, standardized and freely available in bulk.

Public Meeting:
Thursday, 24 September 2009
9:00 a.m. -11:00 a.m.
USPTO Campus in the Madison Auditorium
600 Dulany Street
Alexandria, VA, 22314

Contracting Office Address:
P. O. Box 1450 – Mail Stop 6
600 Dulany Street, MDE, 7th Floor
Alexandria, Virginia 22313-1450

Primary Point of Contact.:

Secondary Point of Contact:
V. Anne Tugbang,
Contracting Officer
Phone: 5712726550
Fax: 5712736550

by James R. Jacobs

[On a related note: Michael A. Keller, Stanford University Librarian, wrote a letter to John B. Owens, on September 17, 2009.  The letter is posted here.]

Patent Office launches clinical certification program with six law schools

More from the National Law Journal on this program:

Patent Office launches clinical certification program with six law schools

Lynne Marek / Staff reporter
July 29, 2008

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has launched a two-year law school clinical certification program that will give students from six selected U.S. law schools experience in practicing intellectual property law before the agency.

The six schools selected to participate in the pilot program that will begin this fall are American University, William Mitchell College of Law, Washington College of Law, University of Connecticut School of Law, the John Marshall Law School, the University of Maine School of Law and Vanderbilt Law School, the office said in a press release. Law school clinical faculty will serve as supervisors.

“We look forward to providing a real-world experience for the students so they will be well prepared to tackle the complexities of intellectual property law that are so important in today’s economy,” said Jon Dudas, the U.S. Commerce Department under secretary for intellectual property.

Students Will Practice IP Law In USPTO Pilot Program

Students Will Practice IP Law In USPTO Pilot Program

Starting this fall, students at several law schools may file and prosecute patent and trademark applications as part of a two-year pilot program sponsored by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Source: IP Law360: Litigation, Policy & People News


See also the National Law Journal story “N.Y. Law School, patent office to extend pilot project to streamline exam process.”

New York Law School and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office will extend and expand a year-long pilot project designed to streamline the patent examination process by opening it to scientific and technical experts. The law school also announced the launch of its new Center for Patent Innovations, headed by Mark Webbink, formerly the senior vice president and general counsel at Red Hat, the premier Linux and open source vendor.