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IP Alert
IP Alert: USPTO Retires SAWS Program

March 2, 2015

Today the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) announced that it is retiring the Sensitive Application Warning System (SAWS), a program that has been in place since 1994.

Characterized by the USPTO as “one of many practical, internal efforts that the USPTO has in place to ensure that only the highest quality patents are issued by the Agency,” SAWS was a little-known program at the USPTO for review of certain “sensitive” applications. The USPTO has released very little information on what constituted a “sensitive” application, except to describe those applications as “applications that could potentially be of special interest.” SAWS was widely rumored to be a program by which the USPTO applied additional scrutiny to certain patent applications that could be viewed as controversial, embarrassing, or dangerous. In today’s announcement, the USPTO indicated that the SAWS program “has only been marginally utilized and provides minimal benefit,” and is unnecessary in light of other quality initiatives at the USPTO and because patent applications are now published before issuance.

 

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