The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, long maligned for its dependence on paper-based processes, has launched an IT upgrade that will hasten the patent process. CIO John Owens' strategy, called Patents End-to-End, aims to cut the time from patent application to final determination by 42%. The upgraded systems will accept and publish XML-based patent applications, employing analytics and search. PTO has also entered into an agreement with Google to put its collection of 7 million patent applications, grants, and related information on the Web at no cost; that information was previously available only for a fee.
Owens has championed PTO's telework policy. Employees are encouraged to work from home using their own computers, made possible by a secure VPN connection and collaboration tools, at a cost of only about $105 per employee. Before joining USPTO in 2008, Owens was an IT manager at AOL.