On June 24, 2004, the U .S. Patent and Trademark Office published "Changes to Representation of Others Before the United States Patent and Trademark Office" to provide for e-mail of official communications with registered practitioners, and to improve the Office’s processes for handling applications for registration of patent agents and attorneys, associated petitions and moral character investigations, and computerized delivery of patent practitioner registration examinations. The new rules became effective July 26, 2004 and apply prospectively.
E-Mail Communication with Registered Practitioners
The Office of Enrollment and Discipline will maintain a list of up to three e-mail addresses for a registered practitioner and Practitioners will be responsible for updating the OED with each and every change of e-mail address. OED plans to use all the addresses furnished by a practitioner to communicate with him or her. However, it appears that the e-mail addresses will not be available on the published list of registered practitioners.
Computerized Examination of New Patent Agents and Attorneys
Under the new computerized examination procedure, there are no fixed application deadlines. Applications may be submitted throughout the year. The applications will be reviewed, and persons admitted to the examination will schedule the examination at their convenience with a commercial entity engaged to deliver the examination. The commercial entity is equipped to provide the exam at over 400 locations around the United States. An individual failing the examination must wait thirty days after the date the individual last took the examination before retaking the examination.
The total fees for the computerized examination are $350 (the sum of $200 examination development fee charged by the Office, and the $150 fee charged by the commercial entity administering the examination). The Office will also offer applicants the option of taking a paper examination administered by the Office once a year. The fee for the Office-administered paper examination will be $450.
An examination will include 100 questions. All the questions are multiple choice, and each addresses the patent laws, rules and procedures as related in the Manual of Patent Examining Procedure. The data bank of questions and answers will not be published or otherwise made available to the public. The examination will no longer be ‘‘open book’’ in the sense that the MPEP will only be accessible on-line during the computerized examination. However, prior to taking an examination, a tutorial will be provided by the commercial entity to all individuals to show them how to operate the computer, download and search the MPEP, and navigate among the questions. Further, the USPTO is in the process of developing a tutorial that will be available either on or through a link from the Office Web site to show how the MPEP will be accessed and navigated during the examination.
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