On November 26, USPTO Commissioner for Patents Peggy Focarino announced plans for the Manual of Patent Examination Procedure in Fiscal Year 2014 in a blog post: USPTO Revises MPEP Publication Process. For an online copy of the MPEP Manual of Patent Examination Procedure (MPEP).
The MPEP is not legal authority (e.g., a Federal Circuit decision trumps a conflicting MPEP interpretation), but can be helpful because it describes patent prosecution details that may not arise in court decisions, it is well indexed, and it is often persuasive to examiners. As long as it matches CAFC decisions which is many times, I think it is a great resource.
One of its problems is it is lags behind court decisions, and has a quirky style of printing to show where revisions occur. As to the new publication process -- making the MPEP text clean and showing the last revision date on each section is not earthshaking, but should improve its readability. A more interesting change is the effect we may see with Ideascale which will allow the public to submit ideas on how to improve the MPEP.
Because the USPTO plans to release three MPEP editions in FY 2014, it is best to keep up to date online. The first edition is expected to incorporate the provisions of the America Invents Act (AIA), which was enacted in September 2011. The second edition will give guidance on the new Patent Law Treaty, and the third edition will give guidance on the Geneva Act of the Hague Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Industrial Designs.
Copyright © 2013 Robert Moll. All rights reserved.