Detailed Information on the
U.S. Patent and Trademark Office - Trademarks Assessment

Program Code 10000044
Program Title U.S. Patent and Trademark Office - Trademarks
Department Name Department of Commerce
Agency/Bureau Name U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
Program Type(s) Direct Federal Program
Assessment Year 2003
Assessment Rating Moderately Effective
Assessment Section Scores
Section Score
Program Purpose & Design 100%
Strategic Planning 86%
Program Management 86%
Program Results/Accountability 53%
Program Funding Level
(in millions)
FY2007 $190
FY2008 $221
FY2009 $237

Ongoing Program Improvement Plans

Year Began Improvement Plan Status Comments

Explore ways to change how work is performed and assigned to provide a better balance between available resources fiven external uncertainties. New options for assigning work would be considered, evaluated and piloted prior to making changes, but will result in the reduction and maintenance of first action pendency at between 2.5 to 3.5 months.

Action taken, but not completed

USPTO will further expand focus on quality in 2009 by establishing a staff that will examine work performed by non-attorney positions, similar to the quality review function that exists to review and incorporate findings in training and examination guides for attorney examiners.

Action taken, but not completed

Completed Program Improvement Plans

Year Began Improvement Plan Status Comments

Implement the revised trademark workload model and projections of staffing requirements.

Completed June 2004

Incorporating cost-efficiency targets into performance plans.

Completed The USPTO has included key performance metrics in all Senior Executive Service and senior management performance plans, to better manage agency strategic goals against employee performance.

Investing in strategic plan initiatives to further improve trademark pendency and quality.

Completed The USPTO has established more consistent quality measures and increased the capacity of the Trademark examining corps by hiring, training, and expanding the work-at-home program.

Develop and publish a new Strategic Plan. USPTO goals are to be reviewed and updated to fully support the FY 2007-2012 Strategic Plan.

Completed Continuing to refine our performance measures and their associated targets. USPTO has an ongoing effort to review all performance measures and to ensure they reflect our missions.

Program Performance Measures

Term Type  
Long-term Output

Measure: Applications filed electronically

Explanation:This measure indicates the success of USPTO's efforts and applicants' willingness to communicate electronically based on the percent of applications filed electronically.

Year Target Actual
2001 30.0% 24.0%
2002 50.0% 38.0%
2003 80.0% 57.5%
2004 65.0% 73.0%
2005 70.0% 88.0%
2006 80.0% 93.8%
2007 90.0% 95.4%
2008 95.0%
2009 95.0%
2010 95.0%
2011 95.0%
2012 95.0%
2013 95.0%
Long-term Outcome

Measure: Final action compliance rate

Explanation:Based on a quality review, the percent of pending, registered, or abandoned applications not containing an error that could affect the validity of the trademark registration

Year Target Actual
2001 94.0% 96.9%
2002 95.0% 95.7%
2003 96.0% 97.7%
2004 95.0% 94.2%
2005 95.0% 94.1%
2006 93.5% 95.7%
2007 96.0% 97.4%
2008 96.0%
2009 96.0%
2010 96.0%
2011 96.0%
2012 96.0%
2013 96.0%
Long-term Outcome

Measure: Average first action pendency

Explanation:The average time, in months, from the filing date of the application to the mailing of the first office action.

Year Target Actual
2001 6.6 2.7
2002 3.0 4.3
2003 3.0 5.4
2004 5.4 6.6
2005 6.4 6.3
2006 5.3 4.8
2007 3.7 2.9
2008 2.5 to 3.5
2009 2.5 to 3.5
2010 2.5 to 3.5
2011 2.5 to 3.5
2012 2.5 to 3.5
2013 2.5 to 3.5
Long-term Outcome

Measure: Average total pendency

Explanation:The average time, in months, from the filing date of the application to registration or abandonment of the application.

Year Target Actual
2001 18.0 17.8
2002 15.5 19.9
2003 15.5 19.8
2004 21.6 19.5
2005 20.3 19.6
2006 18.8 18.0
2007 17.3 15.1
2008 16.3
2009 16.0
2010 16.0
2011 16.0
2012 16.0
2013 16.0
Long-term Efficiency

Measure: Cost per trademark

Explanation:Relative indicator of the efficiency of the trademark process as measured by the total cost of programs that support the trademark operation compared to its delivered outputs.

Year Target Actual
2001 N/A $501
2002 N/A $487
2003 $683 $433
2004 $583 $542
2005 $701 $677
2006 $635 $565
2007 $685 $660
2008 $697
2009 $715
2010 $705
2011 $701
2012 $692
2013 $673

Questions/Answers (Detailed Assessment)

Section 1 - Program Purpose & Design
Number Question Answer Score

Is the program purpose clear?

Explanation: USPTO administers the laws relating to trademarks (and patents) while ensuring the creation of valid, prompt, and proper intellectual property (IP) rights and by advising the administration on all domestic and global aspects of IP.

Evidence: USPTO's mission statement

YES 20%

Does the program address a specific and existing problem, interest, or need?

Explanation: USPTO addresses the promotion of industrial and technological progress in the US by providing intellectual property protection. The federal register of trademarks is intended to provide notice of ownership and use in commerce to prevent others from adopting a conflicting or similar mark.

Evidence: USPTO's mission statement and U.S. trademark law as codified in 15 U.S.C. Chapter 22 "Trademarks"

YES 20%

Is the program designed so that it is not redundant or duplicative of any Federal, state, local or private effort?

Explanation: The federal government is the authority for administering laws relating to interstate commerce. USPTO is the only federal agency that administers U.S. laws relating to trademarks. States have adopted their own laws and maintain their own trademark registers which offer intrastate protection.

Evidence: The authority for the U.S. government to administer laws relating to trade and commerce are found in the commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution. 15 U.S.C. Chapter 22 "Trademarks" USPTO Performance and Accountability Report

YES 20%

Is the program design free of major flaws that would limit the program's effectiveness or efficiency?

Explanation: The costs of administering the trademark program are supported by user fees paid by owners interested in protecting the value of their investment by seeking federal registration of their trademarks. The trademark program also has improved its operating procedures and shows declining unit costs per trademark disposed. The new strategic plan contains modest revisions to existing trademark practices and products to further improve quality, pendency, and implementation of e-government. The program has demonstrated consistent increases in the use and acceptance of electronic filing and communications since FY 1999 and is in the process of transitioning internal operations to a fully electronic workflow.

Evidence: 15 U.S.C. Chapter 22 "Trademarks" USPTO Performance and Accountability Report

YES 20%

Is the program effectively targeted, so program resources reach intended beneficiaries and/or otherwise address the program's purpose directly?

Explanation: The program is effective in the use of resources which are covered by user fees paid by applicants who are the direct beneficiaries of the special benfits that are conveyed to those entitled under the law. Federal registration provides public notice of marks in use which protects owners of marks and consumers in the market place.

Evidence: USPTO 21st Century Strategic Plan 15 USC Chapter 22 "Trademarks"

YES 20%
Section 1 - Program Purpose & Design Score 100%
Section 2 - Strategic Planning
Number Question Answer Score

Does the program have a limited number of specific long-term performance measures that focus on outcomes and meaningfully reflect the purpose of the program?

Explanation: Trademarks has the following long-term goals: Improve the quality of trademark products and services and optimize trademark processing times, and create a more flexible organization by creating an e-government operation. The specific long-term measures supporting these goals are 1) Improve the quality of trademark products and services by reducing the error rate, 2) Reduce first action and disposal pendency, 3) Improve the efficiency of trademark processing by increasing the number of applications and communications received and processed electronically.

Evidence: USPTO Performance and Accountability Report USPTO 21st Century Strategic Plan

YES 14%

Does the program have ambitious targets and timeframes for its long-term measures?

Explanation: The trademark program revised its long term targets to address difficulties meeting performance targets in FY02 and FY03. In general, these revised targets are ambitious. Quality evaluation criteria were revised to set more rigorous and comprehensive standards to improve the quality of examination. Specific Trademark program targets for 2009 are: (a) 80% of trademark applications filed electronically; (b) improve trademark quality by reducing the deficiency rate, or error rate, on first actions to 4% and on final actions to 3.5%; (c) reduce average trademark first office action pendency to 3.9 months; (d) reduce total average trademark pendency to 20.7 months; and (e) achieve a cost of $TBD per trademark production unit.

Evidence: FY 2005 Budget request and Agency Performance Plan

YES 14%

Does the program have a limited number of specific annual performance measures that demonstrate progress toward achieving the program's long-term measures?

Explanation: USPTO has established a number of annual goals that contribute to measuring progress towards achieving its desired long-term results including trademark pendency, error rate, electronic filing and processing of trademark applications, and unit costs per trademark disposal.

Evidence: FY 2005 Budget request and Agency Performance Plan

YES 14%

Does the program have baselines and ambitious targets and timeframes for its annual measures?

Explanation: The fiscal year 2005 Trademark program targets are: (a) 70% of trademark applications filed electronically; (b) improve trademark quality by reducing the deficiency rate, of error rate, on first actions to 7%, and on final actions to 4.5%; (c) reduce trademark first office action pendency to 5.8 months; (d) disposal pendency at 23.5 months; and (e) achieve a cost of $701 per trademark production unit. While some of the annual targets are less ambitious, as a whole, these targets are realistic and sound.

Evidence: The USPTO Performance and Accountability Report contains targets and actual performance results compared to annual performance goals. The FY 2004 and 2005 Agency Performance Plans contain most targets and baseline results.

YES 14%

Do all partners (including grantees, sub-grantees, contractors, cost-sharing partners, etc.) commit to and work toward the annual and/or long-term goals of the program?

Explanation: USPTO does not partner in a significant way with other agencies in the processing of trademark applications.


NA 0%

Are independent and quality evaluations of sufficient scope and quality conducted on a regular basis or as needed to support program improvements and evaluate effectiveness and relevance to the problem, interest, or need?

Explanation: In the past, the USPTO has not had regular, independent evaluations. The GAO and DOC Office of Inspector General have conducted infrequent reviews of USPTO's performance. In the future, USPTO plans to perform independent reviews of proofs of concepts performed for strategic plan. USPTO conducts internal reviews of the quality of trademark examination. As a result of these internal reviews in the past year, USPTO has adopted more stringent criteria for evaluating and reporting quality results, including the use of "in-process" reviews to apply the results of its quality findings to target training and revise examination guides to further improve quality. USPTO continues to evaluate the quality elements and the criteria that are reviewed and the approach used to communicate the findings to better respond to customer feedback. USPTO contracts with independent auditors to audit annual performance and accountability reports and to compile the results of the annual customer satisfaction surveys.

Evidence: The Office of Trademark Quality Review conducts on-going reviews. The Trademark Public Advisory Committee, an industry oversight committee established by statute, advises the Director of the USPTO on the agency's operations, including its goals, performance, budget, and user fees. Assessments are reported in the USPTO Annual Performance and Accountability Report, the Customer Satisfaction Report and the annual Trademark Public Advisory Committee Report.

NO 0%

Are Budget requests explicitly tied to accomplishment of the annual and long-term performance goals, and are the resource needs presented in a complete and transparent manner in the program's budget?

Explanation: USPTO identifies program goals and performance measures by patent and trademark business in the preparation of its budget request and displays the funding associated with each of the major goals and objectives. USPTO has developed Activity Based Costing models that align services that support the patent and trademark businesses to determine actual expenses and forecast future budget obligations by revenue source.

Evidence: The FY 2004 and 2005 USPTO budget submission reflects the division of the agency budget into two business lines - Patents and Trademarks.

YES 14%

Has the program taken meaningful steps to correct its strategic planning deficiencies?

Explanation: In June 2002, USPTO developed the 21st Century Strategic Plan that promotes changes to trademark practices and procedures to improve quality, pendency, and fully implement e-government operations. The agency has developed detailed implementation plans to support and monitor the achievement of those initiatives. In February 2003, the USPTO published revised action papers and plans that addressed concerns of stakeholders in making changes to the trademark process. The USPTO plans to conduct a "proof of concept" and disclosing the results to stakeholders prior to implementing major new initiatives.

Evidence: USPTO 21st Century Strategic Plan

YES 14%
Section 2 - Strategic Planning Score 86%
Section 3 - Program Management
Number Question Answer Score

Does the agency regularly collect timely and credible performance information, including information from key program partners, and use it to manage the program and improve performance?

Explanation: USPTO is designated a "performance-based organization" (PBO) and regularly collects data on production, pendency, quality, administrative, and financial performance for use by managers to review against baseline and annual targets. The agency also shares data with its international components, including measures of performance and cost. However, recent problems meeting performance targets in the trademark operation indicate that the program did not adequately predict the backlog of unexamined new trademark applications and the inventory of uncompleted trademark applications at the end of FY02. In response, the trademark program has made adjustments to performance targets and management of the operation.

Evidence: USPTO Performance and Accountability Report; Trademark Reporting and Monitoring System (TRAM) reports Quality Review Reports American Invetors Protection Act of 1999 (AIPA) PL 106-113

YES 14%

Are Federal managers and program partners (grantees, subgrantees, contractors, cost-sharing partners, etc.) held accountable for cost, schedule and performance results?

Explanation: Although performance plans at USPTO are linked to the organization's goals, performance plans of managers do not include cost efficiency goals. PTO is working to develop cost efficiency targets and incorporate them into performance plans.

Evidence: Employee Annual Performance Plans Annual performance contract between the Commissioner for Trademarks and the Secretary of Commerce.

NO 0%

Are all funds (Federal and partners') obligated in a timely manner and spent for the intended purpose?

Explanation: USPTO develops operating plans for each organization based on appropriated funding levels and USPTO goals and priorities with routine monitoring of spending against established program plans.

Evidence: Bi-weekly execution reports produced by the Office of Corporate Planning. FY 2002 trademark organization direct funds were 99.7% obligated through September 2002. As of May 15, 2003 71.0% of trademark funds were used. Audited financial statements contained in the USPTO Performance and Accountability Report.

YES 14%

Does the program have procedures (e.g., competitive sourcing/cost comparisons, IT improvements, approporaite incentives) to measure and achieve efficiencies and cost effectiveness in program execution?

Explanation: USPTO has a consistent track record for competitively sourcing non-inherently governmental functions (e.g. mail, payroll, clerical support, Information Technology development and maintenance). In the past year, the Trademark Organization reduced its space requirements as a result of its successful telecommuting program and effective use of Information Technology systems to allow examiners to perform the same job from a remote location. USPTO also has productivity performance measures that are appropriate for its mission and program objectives and has developed annual efficiency measures to evaluate the level of resources consumed and the unit costs of providing services that support the processing and examination of trademarks. Incentive awards paid to trademark examiners further encourage greater productivity which allows the agency to maintain a smaller staff relative to workloads.

Evidence: USPTO Corporate Plans and Budget requests USPTO Performance and Accountability Report USPTO's 21st CenturyStrategic Plan proposes to further increase competitive sourcing of trademark classification and pre examination functions.

YES 14%

Does the program collaborate and coordinate effectively with related programs?

Explanation: USPTO is the only federal entity that addresses the administration of U.S. trademark law through the federal registration of trademarks. USPTO regularly consults and collaborates with international intellectual property counterparts to share systems, exchange information, and discuss changes to trademark laws and practice. USPTO also consults with the Copyright Office of the Library of Congress on intellectual property policy formulation and proposed legislation. USPTO partners with Customs and Border Protection of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security by assisting in the identification and eventual seizure of counterfeit goods and services imported into the U.S.

Evidence: Reports of annual trilateral meetings of USPTO Japan Patent Office and European Patent Office, and participation with working groups sponsored by the World Intellectual Property Organization.

YES 14%

Does the program use strong financial management practices?

Explanation: Although USPTO declared a material weakness under the FMFIA in FY 2002 due to DOC IG evaluations that found that eight critical information systems at PTO were not certified and accredited, this did not affect financial management practices. In FY 2002, the USPTO core financial system was maintained and operated off-site at the US Department of Interior. The FY 2002 Financial Statement audit revealed an unqualified audit opinion with no material weakenesses or reportable conditions. FY 2002 marked the 10th year of an unqualified audit opinion and 6th year without material internal control weakenesses supporting the financial management practices.

Evidence: USPTO Performance and Accountability Report Office of Inspector General/Government Accounting Office Audits/Reports For FY 2002 OIG Report: OSE-15250 Independent Evaluation of USPTO's Information security Program Under the Government Information Security Reform Act (September 2002)

YES 14%

Has the program taken meaningful steps to address its management deficiencies?

Explanation: In the fall of 2003, the trademark program conducted an internal study that examined the reasons for not achieving all FY 2002 and FY 2003 performance targets leading to adjustments in targets and management of the operation. The program continues to look at alternative management tools and practices to help improve performance. PTO's strategic plan does contain some initiatives to strengthen program management, including training and compensation initiatives to improve performance and ensure management officials have the skills, capabilities, and incentives needed to carry out the plan.

Evidence: USPTO 21st Century Strategic Plan

YES 14%
Section 3 - Program Management Score 86%
Section 4 - Program Results/Accountability
Number Question Answer Score

Has the program demonstrated adequate progress in achieving its long-term outcome performance goals?

Explanation: In FY 02 and FY 03, the trademark program did not meet the average total and first office action pendency targets. The program has conducted an initial review of the causes of these performance problems, and has revised and increased its long-term targets. The program is continuing to examine ways to improve performance.

Evidence: USPTO Performance and Accountability Report USPTO 21st Century Strategic Plan


Does the program (including program partners) achieve its annual performance goals?

Explanation: In FY02 and FY03, average total pendency and first action pendency increased and targets were not met.

Evidence: USPTO Performance and Accountability Report


Does the program demonstrate improved efficiencies or cost effectiveness in achieving program performance goals each year?

Explanation: As the Trademark Business has moved forward to implement electronic processing it has reduced the associated operating costs by reducing and/or redirecting resources to other processes and functions. Unit costs per trademark disposed fell by 31% between FY 1999 and FY 2002.

Evidence: USPTO Performance and Accountability Report


Does the performance of this program compare favorably to other programs, including government, private, etc., that have similar purpose and goals?

Explanation: There are no similar Federal programs. However, the Trademark Business compares favorably with the other two major international intellectual property offices in Japan and Europe. The Trademark Business has both the lowest pendency and lowest cost to the applicant for registering and maintaining a trademark.

Evidence: USPTO data on costs and timeliness for Europe, Japan, and USPTO in FY 2003 Budget Submission. (European Union's Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market trademark price: $4K, Japanese Patent Office trademark price: $4K, and USPTO trademark price: $2K).

YES 20%

Do independent and quality evaluations of this program indicate that the program is effective and achieving results?

Explanation: Few regular, independent evaluations of USPTO's overall effectiveness and performance have been conducted. However, the Trademark Business undergoes internal quality assessment reviews on an ongoing basis, and has strengthened the criteria and uses the results to direct training to further improve quality. The Office of Inspector General conducted an assessment of data quality that focused on performance data and determined that appropriate measures were in place. The Government Accounting Office recently completed a review of USPTO Business and Strategic Plans. USPTO also conducts an annual independent survey of customers, the results of which are used to make changes in how programs are managed.

Evidence: Trademark Quality Review reports Office of Inspector General and Government Accounting Office audits/reports Annual Customer Survey Results

Section 4 - Program Results/Accountability Score 53%

Last updated: 09062008.2003SPR