PTRCA Newsfeed

Final Rule—Setting and Adjusting Patent Fees

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is setting and adjusting Patent and Patent Trial and Appeal Board fees for the first time in almost three years through its Final Rule, effective on October 2, 2020.

Consistent with federal fee-setting standards, in 2017, the USPTO began its biennial review of fees, costs, and revenues, and found that fee adjustments are necessary to adjust to increasing costs and to provide necessary resources for Patent operations, including implementing the USPTO 2018-2022 Strategic Plan.

In 2018, the Patent Public Advisory Committee (PPAC) held a public hearing in Alexandria, Virginia, inviting members of the public to submit written and/or oral testimony on fee adjustments. PPAC considered the public comments from this hearing and made them available on the USPTO website. Later, PPAC provided a written report setting forth the comments, advice, and recommendations of the public and the committee regarding the preliminary proposed fees.

The USPTO considered and analyzed all comments, advice, and recommendations received from PPAC and then, on July 31, 2019, published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding Setting and Adjusting Patent Fees during Fiscal Year 2020. The USPTO received and considered comments from four intellectual property (IP) organizations and 40 individuals, attorneys, law firms, corporations, and other associations. Responses to the comments are included in the Final Rule.

More recently, the USPTO has considered the state of the U.S. economy, the operational needs of the agency, and the comments and advice received from the public during the 60-day comment period in determining when to implement the final rule. The USPTO then made adjustments to the timing of the Final Rule based on all of these considerations, specifically to delay publishing the Final Rule from April, with a July effective date, to August, with an October effective date. This approach is consistent with the USPTO’s many other efforts to provide various types of relief to stakeholders, including deadline extensions and fee postponements. Ultimately, the goal of the USPTO is to ensure not only that businesses and entrepreneurs can weather the economic downturn, but also that they can hit the ground running as it passes.

Among the changes made in response to the comments, the USPTO decided not to implement the annual active patent practitioner fee at this time and delayed implementation of the fee related to DOCX.

The overall strategy of the Final Rule is to establish a fee schedule that generates sufficient multi-year revenue to recover the aggregate costs of maintaining USPTO patent-related operations and accomplishing the USPTO’s patent-related strategic goals.

The Final Rule will benefit the IP community by enabling the USPTO to continue to enhance the quality of patent examination, achieve optimal examination times, invest in modernizing patent information technology systems and infrastructure, and provide stability to USPTO operations, even in times of financial fluctuations.

To learn more about the fee changes, please visit the Summary of FY 2020 Final Patent Fee Rule page of the USPTO website.

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What others are saying about the USPTO’s updated study on participation of women in the U.S. innovation economy

On Tuesday, July 21, the United States Patent and Trademark Office released “Progress and Potential: 2020 Update on U.S. Women Inventor-Patentees,” a follow-up to its 2019 report on U.S. women inventors. The new report found that more women are participating in the intellectual property system than ever before. A brief roundup of reactions to this report includes:

CNET–Women inventors are sticking with it, patent office says

“The percentage of women inventors filing additional patents within five years of their first is on the rise. Data from the United States Patent and Trademark Office shows improvement in the patent field for women since the 1980s.”

BloombergWomen Inventors Make Progress but Still Lag Male Counterparts

“American women are making slow but steady progress when it comes to innovation and obtaining legal protection for their inventions, according to a new study by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The share of patents with at least one woman named as inventor was 22% by the end of 2019, up from 20.7% in 2016, according to the study of patents with at least one U.S.-based inventor.”

Protocol–The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has new figures on the gender diversity of people winning patents

“…the percentage of women inventors has grown: It stood at less than 5% in 1980, whereas women accounted for more than 17% of the inventors on U.S. patents in 2019. The percentage of women on patents is also up in 45 states when comparing 2007 to 2016 and 2007 to 2019, the USPTO report said.”

World IP Review–USPTO welcomes ‘promising’ women inventor numbers

“USPTO welcomes ‘promising’ women inventor numbers. A new report from the US Patent and Trademark Office reveals that the participation of women in innovation is growing, earning the office praise from the legal industry.”

Law360USPTO Says Rate Of Women Getting Patents At 'All-Time High'

The report released Tuesday—which focused on women who secured patents in the last three years—found that the rate in which female inventors are participating in the U.S. patent system is at an "all-time high," from 12.1% in 2016 to 12.8% in 2019.

Innovation AllianceInnovation Alliance Statement on Update to USPTO Report on Women Inventors on U.S. Patents

“The Innovation Alliance commends USPTO Director Iancu and his staff for releasing an update to the 2019 USPTO report on the participation of women in the U.S. innovation economy.”

Andrei Iancu, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO

“To retain our nation’s edge as a global innovation leader, we need even broader participation in patenting. That’s why the USPTO has made outreach to underrepresented groups a top priority.”

This report updates the previous findings based on a review of an additional nearly one million issued patents and three years of new data, and it provides further insights into the participation of women in America’s intellectual property systems.

Read the press release on the USPTO website.

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Director Andrei Iancu addresses National Association of Manufacturers on combating counterfeit products

Andrei Iancu, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, today called on consumers to fight against counterfeit products. He did so in an address to the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) as they released their anti-counterfeiting white paper.

“When we fight counterfeiting, we have to look at both sides—supply and demand,” declared Director Iancu. “And on both fronts, we have the strong support of the entire Administration.”

“A creative, collaborative, and ambitious public-private partnership can harness the particular strengths and reach of the partners undertaking this important work,” continued Director Iancu. “Working together—industry and government in a systemic and sustained manner—we can make a real difference.”

Director Iancu was joined by U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ) at the webinar-based NAM event, which also featured the high-profile release of their white paper entitled, “Countering Counterfeits: The Real Threat of Fake Products.”

NAM is the largest industrial trade association in the United States, with more than 14,000 member companies across all 50 states.

Read Director Iancu’s full remarks on the USPTO website.

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USPTO releases updated study on participation of women in the U.S. innovation economy

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) today released “Progress and Potential: 2020 Update on U.S. Women Inventor-Patentees,” a follow-up to its 2019 report on U.S. women inventors. The new report updates the previous findings based on a review of an additional nearly one million issued patents and three years of new data, and it provides further insights into the participation of women in America’s intellectual property systems.

The report's numerous findings include:

  • More women are entering and staying active in the patent system than ever before.
  • The number of patents with at least one woman inventor increased from 20.7% in 2016 to 21.9% by the end of 2019.
  • The “Women Inventor Rate”–the share of U.S. inventors receiving patents who are women–increased from 12.1% in 2016 to 12.8% in 2019.
  • The share of women among new inventors on issued patents increased from 16.6% in 2016 to 17.3% by 2019.
  • The gender gap in the number of women inventors who remain active by patenting again within five years is decreasing. For the most recent group of new inventors, 46% of women patented again in the next five years versus 52% of men.
  • Among the leading patent filers, the 3M Company showed the largest improvement in the participation of women inventor-patentees: Their average increased from 15.2% over 2007- 2016 to 16.6% for 2007-2019.  

“This report is a great achievement for the USPTO and an important steppingstone for women in America’s intellectual property systems,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. “The USPTO has remained committed in their efforts to support women in innovation, and this positive momentum will continue to create a more inclusive intellectual property community.”

“Today’s report from the USPTO further highlights the important contributions of women to American innovation,” said Deputy Secretary of Commerce Karen Dunn Kelley. “I applaud the USPTO for their support of women inventors and their work to encourage women to take advantage of our nation’s intellectual property protections, the gold standard for the world. Everyone benefits when women fully participate in our innovation ecosystem.”

“The good news is that efforts to increase the participation of women in the intellectual property system continue to yield results,” said Andrei Iancu, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO. “To retain our nation’s edge as a global innovation leader, we need even broader participation in patenting. That’s why the USPTO has made outreach to underrepresented groups a top priority. We will continue to work with industry and academia to expand participation in the innovation ecosystem. We will also shine a spotlight on the accomplishments of past and present women inventors, and inventors from other underrepresented groups, to inspire a new generation to participate in innovation." 

Access the full report on the USPTO website.

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Learn about design patents

What is a design patent? How does one differ from a utility patent? Learn the basics of the design patent system from a USPTO design supervisory patent examiner. This event is free and open to the public, so register early.

The July 24 session will be offered virtually via WebEx to those registered for the event.

This session will be useful for inventors, entrepreneurs, and all those who would like to learn more about patents and have a beginning to intermediate knowledge of the patent system.

This event is accessible to individuals with disabilities. To request a reasonable accommodation, including captioning, sign language interpreting, or other, please email siliconvalley@uspto.gov or call 408-918-9900.

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Patent Center beta webinars

Patent Center beta is available for all users. Patent Center is a new tool for electronic filing and management of patent applications in a single, unified interface.

Join us for training on how to use various features in Patent Center, including filing in DOCX. Several members of the eCommerce Modernization (eMod) team will share information and conduct a demo, followed by a question-and-answer session.

Register to attend one of these upcoming scheduled webinars:

  • Thursday, July 23, 1-2 p.m. ET
  • Wednesday, July 29, 1-2 p.m. ET

You will receive instructions for joining the webinar via email prior to the session you registered for.

We encourage you to use Patent Center beta and provide feedback to help shape the future of our systems. Please visit the eMod IdeaScale to provide feedback. More information about Patent Center beta is available on the Patent Center information page of the USPTO website. Future training opportunities will be posted to that page.

For assistance, questions, or feedback, please contact eMod@uspto.gov.

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July 23: Webinar on using overlapping IP rights to protect your products in China

Register to attend the latest in a series of USPTO webinars focused on intellectual property (IP) protection and enforcement in China. This free program, “Using overlapping IP rights to protect your products in China,” will be held Thursday, July 23, from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. ET.

Participants will have the opportunity to hear from guest practitioners with extensive IP experience on using overlapping IP rights for protecting products in China. These include design patents, utility model patents, three-dimensional trademarks, copyrights, and the protections afforded under China’s Anti-Unfair Competition Law. As part of the program, presenters will walk participants through the process of how they would protect a hypothetical product and the steps they would take in the event of infringement.

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The operational phase of the IP5 PCT CS&E pilot has concluded

The operational phase of the IP5 Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) Collaboration Search and Examination (CS&E) pilot concluded on June 30. No new international applications will be accepted into the pilot.

The five largest intellectual property offices in the world launched this pilot on July 1, 2018. It allowed examiners from each office, with different working languages, to collaborate on the search and examination of a single international application. The result was an international search report and written opinion from the chosen international searching authority based on contributions from all participating offices. The pilot will now enter the evaluation phase.

For questions and concerns about the CS&E pilot, contact Deputy Director of the International Patent Legal Administration Michael Neas at 571-272-3289.

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Today: Intellectual Property 101

Unfamiliar with patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets? Join us today, July 15, from 2-3 p.m. ET to learn about intellectual property (IP) basics and potential ways to protect your innovations as you transition from idea to product. 

Join online via WebEx.

Elizabeth Dougherty, the USPTO Eastern Regional Outreach Office Director, will lead a discussion about:

  • An overview of intellectual property types: patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets
  • Why innovators and entrepreneurs should consider protecting their IP
  • Local resources and assistance available through the USPTO and other agencies

The USPTO Eastern Regional Outreach Office and the Kutztown Small Business Development Center are presenting this session for aspiring entrepreneurs, innovators, and students. For more information, visit the Intellectual Property 101 event page on the USPTO website.

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Technology Center 2800 Virtual Customer Partnership Meeting

Join USPTO for the free Technology Center (TC) 2800 Virtual Customer Partnership Meeting on August 11, from noon to 2 p.m. ET. Register by July 31 to attend.

TC 2800 examines applications from areas such as semiconductors, memory, circuits, optics, photocopying, and printing.

Meeting topics tentatively include:

  • 112(b)
  • Artificial intelligence tools at the USPTO
  • Patent application initiatives
  • Q&A with TC 2800 directors and presenters

Patents customer partnership meetings (CPMs) like this one provide an opportunity for our customers to meet directly with technology center representatives in a collaborative forum to share ideas, experiences, and insights and to discuss examination policies, procedures, mutual concerns, and solutions to common problems. 

For inquiries and accessibility requests, email TC2800CustomerPartnership@uspto.gov
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Commissioner for Patents Drew Hirshfeld appointed to a second five-year term

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) today announced that Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross has reappointed Commissioner for Patents Drew Hirshfeld for a second five-year term. Commissioner Hirshfeld’s original term was set to expire this July.

“I am pleased to reappoint Drew Hirshfeld as the Commissioner for Patents at the United States Patent and Trademark Office,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. “Commissioner Hirshfeld has made great contributions toward the mission of the Patents organization, and I am confident he will continue to do so throughout his second term. The Patents organization is vital to America’s intellectual property system, and I commend Commissioner Hirshfeld’s leadership and service.”

“Commissioner Hirshfeld and his team have done an excellent job in recent years of improving patent pendency, quality and overall operations, while helping to implement significant changes to examination guidance in many areas, including patent eligibility,” said Andrei Iancu, Under Secretary of Commerce and Director of the USPTO. “I am confident that under his ongoing leadership, the Patents organization will continue the efforts we have recently undertaken and operate at the highest levels of excellence to meet the needs of our ever-important and ever-evolving intellectual property system.”

“I am deeply honored that Secretary Ross and Director Iancu have given me the opportunity to remain of service to our almost 10,000 patents employees, to our inventor community, and to the public,” said Commissioner Hirshfeld. “My mission is to constantly adapt and improve the way the Patents organization operates to ensure that we provide the best customer service possible. I look forward to continuing to work with our leadership team to ensure that we meet our goals each year.”

Prior to serving as Commissioner for Patents, Mr. Hirshfeld held the positions of Deputy Commissioner for Patent Examination Policy and Chief of Staff to the Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO. Mr. Hirshfeld began his career in 1994 as a Patent Examiner, became a Supervisory Patent Examiner in 2001, and was promoted in 2008 to Group Director in Technology Center 2100.

Mr. Hirshfeld received a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Vermont, and a J.D. from Western New England College School of Law.

View the press release on the USPTO website.

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Fee schedule update

The fee schedule was updated with the following changes, effective July 1:

PCT Fees to Foreign Offices

  • 1712: International search (IPAU) – fee decrease from $1,483 to $1,341

The fee schedule provides information and fee rates for our products and services. For additional information, please call the USPTO Contact Center at 571-272-1000 or 800-786-9199, or visit the PCT fees page of the USPTO website.

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USPTO announces Fast-Track Appeals Pilot Program

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) today announced plans for the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) to begin accepting petitions for expedited resolution of ex parte appeals. The “Fast-Track Appeals Pilot Program” launches July 2, 2020. The required petition fee is $400. 

"The Fast-Track Appeals Pilot Program serves as an extension of the Track One prioritized examination program, which has proven to be very popular with our nation’s innovators,” said Andrei Iancu, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO. “For the first time in USPTO history, applicants will be able to speed up both patent examination and ex parte appeals, thus obtaining decisions on their most important inventions in about half the time of a typical application."

The USPTO expects that the average ex parte appeal reviewed under the Fast-Track Appeals Pilot Program will be decided within six months from the date a petition is granted. “We have made great strides in recent years reducing our appeal pendency from a high of about 30 months on average in 2015 to a current average of about 14 months,” said Scott Boalick, Chief Judge for the Patent Trial and Appeal Board. “I am thrilled that the PTAB will now be able to offer an even faster track for applicants who need it, allowing inventors and businesses to commercialize their patentable inventions sooner.”

Petition grants for fast-track review of ex parte appeals will initially be limited to a maximum of 500 per fiscal year, or 125 per quarter, for the program’s duration. In order to keep appeals on schedule, oral hearings under the program will be expedited and, once scheduled, will not be rescheduled or relocated.

For additional information on the Fast-Track Appeals Pilot Program, see the USPTO’s Federal Register Notice and the PTAB’s webpage on the USPTO website.

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USPTO releases additional information on the COVID-19 Trademark Prioritized Examination Program

On June 15, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) announced the COVID-19 Prioritized Examination Program for certain trademark and service mark applications, which allows COVID-19-related trademark applications to be advanced out of turn and immediately assigned for examination. On June 30, the USPTO launched a related webpage, where applicants can find additional resources and information about the program.

As outlined in the official notice, applicants request participation in the program through a petition to the Director to advance the initial examination of qualifying trademark applications, and the USPTO has waived the fee for such petitions. Examination can be expedited by approximately two months (depending on how quickly the applicant files the petition), and may be further expedited by responding promptly to any USPTO correspondence.

Questions regarding the COVID-19 Trademark Prioritized Examination Program may be addressed to TMPolicy@uspto.gov. Questions about how to access or submit the TEAS “Petition to Director” form should be addressed to TEAS@uspto.gov.

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Revision to the MPEP

On June 30, the ninth edition of the Manual of Patent Examining Procedure was revised to include updated information on patent examination policy and procedure related to a number of issues, including subject matter eligibility and examination of computer-implemented functional claim limitations.

The June 2020 revision updates sections of chapters 100-1000, 1200-1500, and 1700-2800. The updated sections have a revision indicator of [R-10.2019], meaning these sections have been updated to reflect USPTO patent practice and relevant case law as of October 31, 2019. In addition, the June 2020 revision updates Chapter FPC - Form Paragraphs Consolidated, the Foreword, the Introduction, the Subject Matter Index, and all Appendices, except Appendix I and Appendix P.

Learn more on the MPEP page of the USPTO website.

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USPTO extends certain CARES Act relief for small and micro entities

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) recognizes that the COVID-19 pandemic has imposed significant hardships on many of our stakeholders. As a result, the USPTO has waived certain fees under existing authority through the March 16 notice, and has extended certain patent and Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) deadlines three times under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), through the March 31 notice, the April 28 notice, and the May 27 notice.

As businesses begin to reopen or resume operations, some stakeholders will continue to require relief, particularly small businesses and individuals. By the notice issued today (the June 29 notice), under the CARES Act authority and its existing authority, the USPTO has extended from July 1, 2020, to September 30, 2020, the time for small and micro entities to pay certain patent-related fees that would otherwise have been due on or after March 27, 2020. The small and micro entity fees eligible for an extension until September 30, 2020, include: basic filing fees, issue fees, maintenance fees, and other fees as set forth in the June 29 notice. In addition to this extension, and although some of the other relief provided in past notices is ending, other extensions of time and other relief remain available to those who need it on a case-by-case basis.

As explained in the May 27 notice and the April 28 notice, the USPTO has also waived the fee for filing a petition for the revival of applications that became abandoned, if accompanied by a statement that the delay in filing or payment was due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The June 29 notice clarifies that such petitions must be filed by July 31, 2020, to be eligible for the petition fee waiver.

The USPTO will continue to evaluate the evolving situation around the COVID-19 outbreak and the impact on the USPTO’s operations and stakeholders. At this time, the USPTO does not anticipate any further blanket extensions beyond what is articulated in today’s notice.

For details on the latest extension, read the official notice on our website.

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Register for Invention-Con 2020

Are you an independent inventor, entrepreneur, small business owner, or intellectual property (IP) professional? Don’t miss the USPTO’s virtual Invention-Con 2020, which will be free and online August 20-22. This year’s theme is “Your IP: A power tool for building success.” Register now for this special event

At Invention-Con 2020, you’ll have the chance to:

  • Hear from keynote speaker Sam Zaid, CEO and founder of Getaround
  • Learn from experts how to use your IP successfully as an inventor or entrepreneur
  • Discover helpful resources available to you at the national, state, and local levels
  • Hear about IP strategies vital to any innovator
  • Learn about IP networks

You can also find valuable help for innovators and learn about IP on these USPTO webpages:

For more information, email InventionCon@uspto.gov. Learn more about past Invention-Cons on the Invention-Con program webpage of the USPTO website.

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New TBMP available

The June 2020 update of the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board Manual of Procedure (TBMP) is now available on the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board webpage under "Policies and procedures." The revision describes current practice and procedure under the applicable authority and relevant case law reported between March 1, 2019, and February 29, 2020.
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