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Wednesday Jul 31, 2019

USPTO proposes patent fee adjustments

Guest blog by Acting Chief Financial Officer of the USPTO Sean Mildrew

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At the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), we continuously work to reinforce the predictability, reliability, and quality of patent rights. To meet this challenge, the USPTO requires a predictable and sufficient stream of funding, which means that we must continually review our fees and adjust them as appropriate.

Today’s notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) regarding USPTO fees is the result of a comprehensive biennial fee review that began in 2017, when we analyzed the effects of proposed fee changes on our operating model. At that time, we concluded that fee adjustments would be necessary to provide the resources needed to improve patent operations, including implementing the USPTO 2018-2022 Strategic Plan. As part of our analysis, we also received feedback on an initial fee proposal via a Patent Public Advisory Committee (PPAC) hearing conducted in September 2018 and a report issued by PPAC in October 2018. As a result, the proposed fee adjustments outlined in the NPRM increase certain patent fees where there are specific needs and increase the remaining fees at a set percentage to address rising expenses.  The significant percentage discounts for small and micro entities are maintained.

With this additional funding, we will:

  • Enhance the quality and timeliness of patent examination in order to produce more reliable and predictable patent rights.
  • Enhance the quality and timeliness of AIA trials by providing sufficient judicial and administrative resources to the Patent Trial and Appeal Board.
  • Replenish the patent operating reserve to further stabilize our finances, enabling us to deliver more reliable and predictable service levels, even in times of financial fluctuations.

We welcome feedback on the proposed changes. A 60-day public comment period is now open. After reviewing and considering the public comments, we expect to prepare a final rule for publication during the summer of 2020.

The NPRM can be accessed here. The preferred method for submitting comments is email addressed to fee.setting@uspto.gov. Comments are preferred to be submitted in plain text, but also may be submitted in portable document format (PDF) or a word processing format. Because comments will be made available for public inspection, information that the submitter does not desire to make public, such as an address or phone number, should not be included in the comments. Comments on the fee proposals are due by September 30, 2019.

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