Patent lawyers say the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s proposal to change patent examiner performance standards is one of several promising innovations the agency has rolled out or floated in recent weeks to cut the massive application backlog.

On Wednesday, the PTO announced that a task force of patent officials and representatives of the examiners’ union has crafted a sweeping overhaul of examiner performance standards. If the union, the Patent Office Professional Association (POPA), approves the changes, it would be the first major revision of the performance standards since 1986.

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