tm logo


Intellectual Property News

Uspto 2023 Year In Review

USPTO 2023 Year in Review: Innovations and Milestones

Lindokuhle Mkhize

Lindokuhle Mkhize

20 December 20235 min read

share this blog

USPTO 2023 year in review

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) promotes and protects innovation nationwide. As we reflect on the year 2023, we see significant achievements within the USPTO.

Journeys of innovation and tech advancements:

In 2023, the USPTO embraced technological advancements to enhance its operations. This move helped to improve the handling of patent and trademark applications. Streamlining the patent and trademark office's examination process included services such as:

  • AI
  • Machine learning algorithms
  • Automation

Integrating digital platforms and online filing systems made it easier for inventors and businesses to submit their applications. This fostered a more inclusive and accessible environment for innovation.

The USPTO shifted to an entirely electronic patent grant system. This resulted in creating the Electronic Patent Grant Information Sheet (EPGI). The EPGI stores essential patent grant data electronically. This move Improves admin efficiency and aligns with the goal of fostering a green economy.

Promoting collaboration and partnerships:

Throughout 2023, the USPTO strengthened its collaborative efforts with various stakeholders. Notably industry leaders, scholars, and international patent offices. By fostering strong relationships, the USPTO oversaw processes such as:

  • Knowledge sharing
  • Promoting best practices
  • Harmonized patent examination standards globally

These partnerships helped to expedite the process of granting patents. They created a platform for innovators to easily protect and commercialize their inventions globally.

Addressing IP challenges:

While the USPTO accomplished many milestones, it faced a few challenges in 2023. The AI issues at the USPTO continue to be a significant focus in 2023.

One such challenge was patent quality issues. The USPTO put in place rigorous examination processes to ensure patent quality.

It also introduced comprehensive prior art searches. The prior art search helps in identifying and assessing existing knowledge and technologies related to an invention or innovation. It involves searching for:

  • Prior patents
  • Scientific literature
  • Existing products or processes

Prior art search also uses any other publicly available information that may prove the uniqueness of an invention. The USPTO aimed to lower the likelihood of granting weak or invalid patents by analyzing patent quality. These guidelines help maintain the credibility of the intellectual property system.

President Biden's executive order on October 30, 2023, directed the USPTO to provide guidance on AI inventorship and patentability. The USPTO has been actively working on this issue, seeking public comments since 2019. A key program implemented was the "AI Inventorship Listening Sessions" and public-private AI/ET Partnership meetings. These initiatives helped to explore patent-related concerns related to AI.

The USPTO has also been utilizing AI technology in patent examination since 2023. The Office has been testing different AI platforms. Director Vidal has expressed the intention to assess approaches for making AI search tools publicly available for practitioners.

Over the past four years, the USPTO has actively worked to address the challenges presented by AI. This period has been a "holding pattern" during which the Office has gathered data to inform sound policy decisions. However, we expect that President Biden's order will break this pattern. This decision will influence USPTO policy resulting from years of work on AI-related issues.

Based on their recent work, the executive order is expected to give us a glimpse into the USPTO's policy direction on AI.

Public outreach and education initiatives:

The USPTO continued its efforts to educate and engage the public on IP rights and the benefits of innovation. Through various outreach initiatives, such as:

  • Programs
  • Workshops
  • Webinars

The USPTO sought to empower inventors and business entrepreneurs with the knowledge and tools to protect their IP. These educational initiatives aimed to foster a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship, laying the foundation for future growth and economic development.

Electronic filing of patent term extensions (PTEs) and Patent Term Adjustment Statements (PTAs):

The USPTO now requires electronic filing of all PTE-related applications and PTAs responding to Information Disclosure Statements. This change helps reduce paper waste, enhances administrative efficiency, and increases transparency on filed PTEs' status.

Fee structures to support small and micro-entities:

The USPTO has modified fee structures for small and micro-entities. This will encourage more equitable access to intellectual property (IP) protection. The Unleashing American Innovators Act of 2022 (UAIA) has resulted in a:

  • Fee reduction by 50-60% for certain small entities
  • Fee discount of 75-80% for micro-entities

Additionally, small entities may benefit from reduced filing fees for basic and non-provisional utility applications. Conversely, large entities may experience increased fees starting from applications filed on or before January 17, 2024.

Notable milestones:

During 2023, the USPTO achieved several notable milestones that deserve recognition. One was the issuance of the 10 million utility patent, a testament to the innovative spirit of American inventors.

Mary Fuller appointed regional director:

Another notable development was the appointment of Mary Fuller as the regional director. Fuller will head up the USPTO's Silicon Valley Regional Office.

As the regional director, Fuller is pivotal in fostering collaboration and building strong relationships with the Silicon Valley community. Her leadership facilitates partnerships between the USPTO and local industries. This initiative promotes innovation and addresses the unique IP protection challenges startups and inventors face in this vibrant ecosystem.

Patent Center to fully replace USPTO legacy system:

To streamline and modernize its patent trial and operations, the USPTO announced the complete replacement of its legacy system. The Patent Center is a cutting-edge digital platform that makes the patent application process user-friendly and accessible. The rollout of the Patent Center takes care of filing and managing patent applications online.

With enhanced features and improved functionality, the Patent Center simplifies patent application filing monthly review, submission, and management. It leverages advanced technology and automation, reducing processing time and increasing the overall efficiency of the patent examination process. 

This transition to a modernized system aligns with the USPTO's commitment to providing better services to inventors. By streamlining processes, it ultimately fosters a more effective intellectual property system.

Replacing the legacy system with the Patent Center is a significant step towards enhancing the user experience and productivity for inventors, attorneys, and stakeholders involved in the patent application process. It represents the USPTO's continued efforts to embrace technology and innovation. Ensuring that IP systems remain robust will adapt to the evolving needs of the innovators in the digital age.

An innovative ecosystem

The USPTO's 2023 year in review showcased the dedication and commitment of the organization to fostering innovation. Protecting intellectual property and ensuring the success of inventors and businesses is at the top of the list. Through technological advancements, collaborations, and educational initiatives, the USPTO continued to evolve and adapt to the changing needs of the innovative ecosystem.

share this blog

Lindokuhle Mkhize, a skilled creative copywriter and content lead at Trademarkia, brings a wealth of experience in driving innovation and managing teams. With previous success in starting and growing the Innovation and Marketing department at her former creative agency, Lindokuhle boasts expertise in leadership and delivering compelling content. Based in South Africa, Lindokuhle's work focuses on key themes of creativity, effective communication, and strategic marketing.