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Executive Summary

PTO BIOTECHNOLOGY INSTITUTE: U.S. PATENT & TRADEMARK OFFICE establishing a board that will include members from government, academe, industry and the legal profession. "The purpose of this board is to assist the PTO in identifying technology trends and training expertise for the institute," a Feb. 22 Federal Register notice states. The Biotechnology Institute derives from a proposal last summer from the Industrial Biotechnology Association. The initiative was directed at reducing the backlog of pending biotech patent applications through a more formalized program of technical and legal education for biotechnology patent examiners. The goal of the institute, according to the PTO, is to provide patent examiners with the necessary resources to keep current on law and technology. Groups including the IBA, the Association of Biotechnology Companies, the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association and the Intellectual Property Owners "will be invited to provide the technical and legal resources needed to design and present training courses and provide the PTO with general reference materials," the notice states. An initial meeting of the Biotechnology Institute board is scheduled for April 18 at PTO headquarters in Arlington, virginia. Organizations interested in having representatives on the board should forward names to the Commissioner of Patents and Trademarks, Washington, D.C. 20231; nominations should be sent by March 31 to the attention of John Kittle, Group 180 director. A future notice inviting academic and bar and trade association support for the Biotechnology Institute will be published in the Federal Register. The PTO explained that participation by groups outside the agency "will be strictly limited" to assistance in identifying needs and providing expertise. "No contacts with the private sector will involve patent applications or patents or their processing in any way, ]and[ general policy issues will not be resolved or decided in the institute program."

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