The United States Patent and Trademark Office has recently launched an online forum titled Discuss the MPEP, which as the title suggests will allow interested individuals to discuss sections of the MPEP, otherwise known as the Manual of Patent Examining Procedure. The goal of this discussion forum is to provide the editors of the MPEP with information useful when considering re-writing the MPEP. The goal for versions of the MPEP to come is to create a document hat will enable both practitioners and examiners to find information quickly, get accurate and complete guidance, and ensure that all patent applications comply with the laws and regulations governing the patent system.
The Patent Office is asking everyone to help spread the word and to encourage people to participate in this community forum. The forum says: “Spread the Word! E-mail, tweet, or post… to your networks, and invite them to get involved.”
The Terms and Conditions page explains the purpose of the discussion forum as follows:
We invite you to join the conversation to help improve the Manual of Patent Examining Procedure (MPEP).
We created this Web site in order to engage people in a discussion around how to improve this important document. The ultimate objective is to create an MPEP that will enable practitioners and examiners to find information quickly, get accurate and complete guidance, and ensure that all patent applications comply with the laws and regulations governing the patent system.
To foster interaction, visitors to this Web site may submit ideas, submit comments about ideas, and vote for the ideas they think are the most important.
Our editorial staff will periodically be posting proposed new material for you to respond to, and will in some cases will post responses to some of the ideas and comments.
There are few true “terms” of participation, but the USPTO does ask all participants to agree to the following terms:
1. To ensure a productive discussion, those who elect to participate agree to post only ideas or comments directly related to the MPEP and its contents.
2. Those who elect to participate agree to conduct themselves in a civil manner. This includes refraining from submitting obscene or threatening language; discriminatory language (including hate speech) based on race, national origin, age, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or disability; sexually explicit material; and other material that would violate the law if published here.
3. Those who elect to participate agree to refrain from submitting ideas or comments that promote services or products (not including non-commercial links that are relevant to this Web site); and to refrain from including private phone numbers, email addresses, or postal addresses or embedding other media (not including hyperlinks to other media).
At the moment you can visit the Discuss the MPEP forum and submit ideas relating to MPEP Chapters 500 and 600, but the goal seems to be to ultimately allow for discussion on all of the MPEP sections. As of the writing of this article there are 22 ideas posted, with 19 comments, 38 votes and 35 users registered. The idea with respect to voting is to allow the community to work together to percolate the best ideas to the top, making sure that those with writing/editing authority for the MPEP see those suggestions that the community deems the most important.