Under the AIA and through its own initiatives, the USPTO has developed many programs that facilitate the prosecution of applications through the Office. Applicants should consider the usefulness of these programs in any on-going and newly filed U.S. patent applications.
As is evident from Figure 2, a significant problem affecting USPTO performance has been identified as the Request for Continued Examination (RCE) Backlog, which grow dramatically from 2009 into 2013. The intricacies of RCE practice go beyond the scope of this article, but it is RCE practice that is a primary problem facing the USPTO. At the end of the USPTO’s 2013 End of Fiscal Year, approximately 78,272 RCE applications were awaiting examination at the USPTO. These RCEs divert resources away from the examination of new applications.