Administrative Updates to the General Requirements Bulletin for Admission to the Examination for Registration To Practice in Patent Cases Before the United States Patent and Trademark Office, 52652-52653 [2021-20378]

Download as PDF 52652 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 181 / Wednesday, September 22, 2021 / Notices TABLE 1—STATE AND FEDERAL COMMERCIAL FISHERIES INCLUDED ON THE 2018 AND 2020 ANNUAL DETERMINATIONS—Continued Years eligible to carry observers Fishery Pound Net/Weir/Seine Fisheries Gulf of Mexico menhaden purse seine 2018–2022 Dated: September 17, 2021. Kimberly Damon-Randall, Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2021–20522 Filed 9–21–21; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE Patent and Trademark Office [Docket No. PTO–P–2021–0005] Administrative Updates to the General Requirements Bulletin for Admission to the Examination for Registration To Practice in Patent Cases Before the United States Patent and Trademark Office United States Patent and Trademark Office, Department of Commerce. ACTION: Notice. AGENCY: The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO or Office) previously published a notice requesting comments on the implementation of certain administrative updates to the General Requirements Bulletin for Admission to the Examination for Registration to Practice in Patent Cases Before the United States Patent and Trademark Office (GRB). The USPTO has considered the comments and, based on the support for the proposals, is implementing the updates to the GRB. There are three categories of technical and scientific qualifications that may typically make applicants eligible to sit for the registration examination: Category A for specified bachelor’s degrees, Category B for other bachelor’s degrees with technical and scientific training, and Category C for practical engineering or scientific experience, which may be demonstrated by passing the Fundamentals of Engineering test. Based on the USPTO’s evaluation and comments received, the USPTO is changing the criteria to: Add common Category B degrees to Category A, accept advanced degrees (i.e., master’s and doctor of philosophy degrees) under SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:44 Sep 21, 2021 Jkt 253001 Category A, and accept a combination of core sciences under Category B, Options 2 and 4, so long as one of the core science courses has a lab component. DATES: The revised GRB incorporating the proposed updates will be published and applicable as of September 22, 2021. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Will Covey, Director of the Office of Enrollment and Discipline, by telephone at 571–272–4097 or by email at oed@ uspto.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Summary On March 23, 2021, the Office published a request for comments on three proposals to change the criteria for sitting for the registration examination: (1) Adding common Category B degrees to Category A, (2) accepting advanced degrees (i.e., master’s and doctor of philosophy degrees) under Category A, and (3) accepting a combination of core sciences under Category B, Options 2 and 4, so long as one of the core science courses has a lab component. The Office received 32 comments in response to this request for comments as of May 24, 2021 (the closing date for comments). An overwhelming majority of the comments were supportive of the suggested changes. This notice provides information relating to the implementation of the three proposals. Background The Director of the USPTO is given statutory authority to require a showing by patent practitioners that they possess ‘‘the necessary qualifications to render applicants or other persons valuable service, advice, and assistance in the presentation or prosecution of their applications or other business before the Office.’’ 35 U.S.C. 2(b)(2)(D). The courts have determined that the USPTO Director bears the primary responsibility for protecting the public from unqualified practitioners. Pursuant to that responsibility, USPTO regulations provide that registration to practice in patent matters before the USPTO requires a practitioner to, inter alia, demonstrate possession of scientific and technical qualifications.1 The role of patent practitioners with scientific and technical backgrounds in providing full and clear patent specifications and 1 Legal representation before Federal agencies is generally governed by the provisions of 5 U.S.C. 500. That statute, however, provides a specific exception for representation in patent matters before the USPTO. 5 U.S.C. 500(e). See 35 U.S.C. 2(b)(2)(D) [formerly 35 U.S.C. 31]. PO 00000 Frm 00021 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 claims has long been acknowledged. The USPTO publishes the GRB, which sets forth guidance for establishing possession of scientific and technical qualifications. The GRB is available at www.uspto.gov/sites/default/files/ documents/OED_GRB.pdf. The GRB lists three categories of scientific and technical qualifications that typically make one eligible for admission to the registration examination: (1) Category A for specified bachelor’s degrees, (2) Category B for other bachelor’s degrees with technical and scientific training, and (3) Category C for individuals who rely on practical engineering or scientific experience by demonstrating that they have passed the Fundamentals of Engineering test. If a candidate for registration does not qualify under any of the categories listed in the GRB, the USPTO will conduct an independent review for compliance with the scientific and technical qualifications pursuant to 37 CFR 11.7(a)(2)(ii). The USPTO has evaluated, and continues to evaluate, the list of typically qualifying training set forth in the GRB. These evaluations seek to clarify guidance on what will satisfy the scientific and technical qualifications and to identify possible areas of improved administrative efficiency. To that end, the USPTO published a notice requesting comments on three proposed updates to the GRB: (1) Adding common Category B degrees to Category A, (2) accepting advanced degrees (i.e., master’s and doctor of philosophy degrees) under Category A, and (3) accepting a combination of core sciences under Category B, Options 2 and 4, so long as one of the core science courses has a lab component. See ‘‘Request for Comments on Administrative Updates to the General Requirements Bulletin for Admission to the Examination for Registration to Practice in Patent Cases Before the United States Patent and Trademark Office,’’ 86 FR 15467 (March 23, 2021). The USPTO received 32 comments from intellectual property organizations, universities, industry, a law firm, individual patent practitioners, and the general public. The USPTO acknowledges and appreciates the many comments that were submitted from the intellectual property community. The comments are available at: www.regulations.gov/document/PTO-P2021-0005-0001/comment. The USPTO has considered the comments, including those that raised concerns or provided suggestions. The USPTO is implementing the proposals as stated in the request for comments, and as explained below. Additional E:\FR\FM\22SEN1.SGM 22SEN1 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 181 / Wednesday, September 22, 2021 / Notices suggestions beyond the scope of the request for comments and the questions posed therein were provided in many of the comments. The USPTO appreciates the suggestions and may address them in the future, once further evaluation and data are garnered. This notice merely describes agency policy and procedures and does not involve substantive rulemaking. While the criteria for admission to practice in patent matters is generally described in 37 CFR 11.7, the rule does not set forth the specific scientific and technical criteria for admission. Administrative Update 1: Add Common Category B Degrees to Category A As explained further in the GRB, bachelor’s degrees listed under Category A present prima facie evidence of the requisite technical and scientific qualifications. Prior to this notice, the bachelor’s degree under Category A may only have been in one of the following subjects: Biology, biochemistry, botany, computer science, electronics technology, food technology, general chemistry, marine technology, microbiology, molecular biology, organic chemistry, pharmacology, physics, textile technology, aeronautical engineering, agricultural engineering, biomedical engineering, ceramic engineering, chemical engineering, civil engineering, computer engineering, electrical engineering, electrochemical engineering, engineering physics, general engineering, geological engineering, industrial engineering, mechanical engineering, metallurgical engineering, mining engineering, nuclear engineering, and petroleum engineering. These degree categories will remain listed under Category A. Acceptable computer science degrees under Category A must be accredited by the Computer Science Accreditation Commission of the Computing Sciences Accreditation Board or by the Computing Accreditation Commission of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology on or before the date the degree was awarded. This requirement for computer science degrees under Category A remains unchanged by this notice. Based on the comments received, the USPTO will continue to evaluate this requirement in light of the type of computer science degrees (i.e., whether accredited or not) and the nature of computer science degrees generally awarded by colleges and universities. Starting in early 2020, the USPTO undertook a review of Category B applications to identify bachelor’s degrees that are routinely accepted as demonstrating the requisite scientific VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:44 Sep 21, 2021 Jkt 253001 52653 and technical qualifications. This review is ongoing. Based on the analysis to date and comments received, and understanding that Category A cannot be an exhaustive list of all degrees that would qualify, the Office is expanding the above list of Category A degrees to expressly include the following degrees that are routinely accepted under Category B: Aerospace engineering, bioengineering, biological science, biophysics, electronics engineering, genetic engineering, genetics, marine engineering, materials engineering, materials science, neuroscience, ocean engineering, and textile engineering. Listing these Category B degrees under Category A will improve operating efficiency and streamline the application process for prospective patent practitioners. The USPTO also invited comments on any additional degrees that should be considered under Category A. Based on the comments received and a review of the applicants in the suggested degree categories over the past three calendar years (i.e., 2018 through 2020), the USPTO is also expanding the list of Category A degrees to expressly include the following degree: Environmental engineering. Other degree categories suggested by commenters were considered but are not being included under Category A at this time to allow for the additional collection and evaluation of data on these degree categories. For example, one of the degree categories suggested by commenters was artificial intelligence. In the past three calendar years, however, there have been no applicants with an artificial intelligence degree. The USPTO will continue to monitor degree categories as the degrees and data develop. The Office will continue to accept degrees where the transcript demonstrates equivalence to a Category A degree (For example, molecular cell biology may be equivalent to biology, and materials science and engineering may be equivalent to materials science.).2 demonstrating acceptable technical and scientific training. This includes the newly added Category A degrees listed above and degrees where the transcript demonstrates equivalence to a Category A degree. Administrative Update 2: Accept Advanced Degrees Under Category A DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE Prior to this notice, Category A did not include post-baccalaureate degrees. Based on a review of applicants and the comments received, the USPTO is updating the GRB to list possession of a master’s or a doctor of philosophy degree in a Category A subject as 2 See OED Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), available at www.uspto.gov/learning-and-resources/ patent-and-trademark-practitioners/oed-frequentlyasked-questions-faqs. PO 00000 Frm 00022 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Administrative Update 3: Accept a Combination of Core Sciences Under Category B, Options 2 and 4 Prior to this notice, Category B, Option 4 in the GRB required a combination of 40 credit hours in acceptable technical and scientific courses, including at least 8 hours in either chemistry with a lab or 8 hours in physics with a lab. Category B, Option 2, which focuses on training in biology and related sciences, had a similar requirement. The requirement for lab-based core science courses is meant to ensure familiarity with the processes involved in conducting valid experiments, the scientific method, and proper analysis of scientific data. It is not clear whether multiple courses in either chemistry or physics alone, with a lab, provide an appreciable benefit over general core science training. Accordingly, the USPTO is revising Category B, Option 4 by changing ‘‘8 semester hours in chemistry or 8 semester hours of physics . . . obtained in two sequential courses, each containing a lab’’ to ‘‘eight semester hours in a combination of chemistry, physics, and/or biology, with at least one course including a lab.’’ Category B, Option 2, which already requires training in biology, is being revised to require at least ‘‘eight semester hours in a combination of chemistry and physics, with at least one course including a lab.’’ Andrew Hirshfeld, Commissioner for Patents, Performing the Functions and Duties of the Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office. [FR Doc. 2021–20378 Filed 9–21–21; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–16–P Department of the Navy National Nuclear Security Administration Pay and Performance System Department of the Navy, DoD. Notice of the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program (NNPP) conversion to the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) pay and performance system. AGENCY: ACTION: E:\FR\FM\22SEN1.SGM 22SEN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 86, Number 181 (Wednesday, September 22, 2021)]
[Notices]
[Pages 52652-52653]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2021-20378]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

Patent and Trademark Office

[Docket No. PTO-P-2021-0005]


Administrative Updates to the General Requirements Bulletin for 
Admission to the Examination for Registration To Practice in Patent 
Cases Before the United States Patent and Trademark Office

AGENCY: United States Patent and Trademark Office, Department of 
Commerce.

ACTION: Notice.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO or 
Office) previously published a notice requesting comments on the 
implementation of certain administrative updates to the General 
Requirements Bulletin for Admission to the Examination for Registration 
to Practice in Patent Cases Before the United States Patent and 
Trademark Office (GRB). The USPTO has considered the comments and, 
based on the support for the proposals, is implementing the updates to 
the GRB. There are three categories of technical and scientific 
qualifications that may typically make applicants eligible to sit for 
the registration examination: Category A for specified bachelor's 
degrees, Category B for other bachelor's degrees with technical and 
scientific training, and Category C for practical engineering or 
scientific experience, which may be demonstrated by passing the 
Fundamentals of Engineering test. Based on the USPTO's evaluation and 
comments received, the USPTO is changing the criteria to: Add common 
Category B degrees to Category A, accept advanced degrees (i.e., 
master's and doctor of philosophy degrees) under Category A, and accept 
a combination of core sciences under Category B, Options 2 and 4, so 
long as one of the core science courses has a lab component.

DATES: The revised GRB incorporating the proposed updates will be 
published and applicable as of September 22, 2021.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Will Covey, Director of the Office of 
Enrollment and Discipline, by telephone at 571-272-4097 or by email at 
[email protected].

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Summary

    On March 23, 2021, the Office published a request for comments on 
three proposals to change the criteria for sitting for the registration 
examination: (1) Adding common Category B degrees to Category A, (2) 
accepting advanced degrees (i.e., master's and doctor of philosophy 
degrees) under Category A, and (3) accepting a combination of core 
sciences under Category B, Options 2 and 4, so long as one of the core 
science courses has a lab component. The Office received 32 comments in 
response to this request for comments as of May 24, 2021 (the closing 
date for comments). An overwhelming majority of the comments were 
supportive of the suggested changes.
    This notice provides information relating to the implementation of 
the three proposals.

Background

    The Director of the USPTO is given statutory authority to require a 
showing by patent practitioners that they possess ``the necessary 
qualifications to render applicants or other persons valuable service, 
advice, and assistance in the presentation or prosecution of their 
applications or other business before the Office.'' 35 U.S.C. 
2(b)(2)(D). The courts have determined that the USPTO Director bears 
the primary responsibility for protecting the public from unqualified 
practitioners.
    Pursuant to that responsibility, USPTO regulations provide that 
registration to practice in patent matters before the USPTO requires a 
practitioner to, inter alia, demonstrate possession of scientific and 
technical qualifications.\1\ The role of patent practitioners with 
scientific and technical backgrounds in providing full and clear patent 
specifications and claims has long been acknowledged. The USPTO 
publishes the GRB, which sets forth guidance for establishing 
possession of scientific and technical qualifications. The GRB is 
available at www.uspto.gov/sites/default/files/documents/OED_GRB.pdf.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \1\ Legal representation before Federal agencies is generally 
governed by the provisions of 5 U.S.C. 500. That statute, however, 
provides a specific exception for representation in patent matters 
before the USPTO. 5 U.S.C. 500(e). See 35 U.S.C. 2(b)(2)(D) 
[formerly 35 U.S.C. 31].
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The GRB lists three categories of scientific and technical 
qualifications that typically make one eligible for admission to the 
registration examination: (1) Category A for specified bachelor's 
degrees, (2) Category B for other bachelor's degrees with technical and 
scientific training, and (3) Category C for individuals who rely on 
practical engineering or scientific experience by demonstrating that 
they have passed the Fundamentals of Engineering test. If a candidate 
for registration does not qualify under any of the categories listed in 
the GRB, the USPTO will conduct an independent review for compliance 
with the scientific and technical qualifications pursuant to 37 CFR 
11.7(a)(2)(ii).
    The USPTO has evaluated, and continues to evaluate, the list of 
typically qualifying training set forth in the GRB. These evaluations 
seek to clarify guidance on what will satisfy the scientific and 
technical qualifications and to identify possible areas of improved 
administrative efficiency. To that end, the USPTO published a notice 
requesting comments on three proposed updates to the GRB: (1) Adding 
common Category B degrees to Category A, (2) accepting advanced degrees 
(i.e., master's and doctor of philosophy degrees) under Category A, and 
(3) accepting a combination of core sciences under Category B, Options 
2 and 4, so long as one of the core science courses has a lab 
component. See ``Request for Comments on Administrative Updates to the 
General Requirements Bulletin for Admission to the Examination for 
Registration to Practice in Patent Cases Before the United States 
Patent and Trademark Office,'' 86 FR 15467 (March 23, 2021).
    The USPTO received 32 comments from intellectual property 
organizations, universities, industry, a law firm, individual patent 
practitioners, and the general public. The USPTO acknowledges and 
appreciates the many comments that were submitted from the intellectual 
property community. The comments are available at: www.regulations.gov/document/PTO-P-2021-0005-0001/comment. The USPTO has considered the 
comments, including those that raised concerns or provided suggestions. 
The USPTO is implementing the proposals as stated in the request for 
comments, and as explained below. Additional

[[Page 52653]]

suggestions beyond the scope of the request for comments and the 
questions posed therein were provided in many of the comments. The 
USPTO appreciates the suggestions and may address them in the future, 
once further evaluation and data are garnered.
    This notice merely describes agency policy and procedures and does 
not involve substantive rulemaking. While the criteria for admission to 
practice in patent matters is generally described in 37 CFR 11.7, the 
rule does not set forth the specific scientific and technical criteria 
for admission.

Administrative Update 1: Add Common Category B Degrees to Category A

    As explained further in the GRB, bachelor's degrees listed under 
Category A present prima facie evidence of the requisite technical and 
scientific qualifications. Prior to this notice, the bachelor's degree 
under Category A may only have been in one of the following subjects: 
Biology, biochemistry, botany, computer science, electronics 
technology, food technology, general chemistry, marine technology, 
microbiology, molecular biology, organic chemistry, pharmacology, 
physics, textile technology, aeronautical engineering, agricultural 
engineering, biomedical engineering, ceramic engineering, chemical 
engineering, civil engineering, computer engineering, electrical 
engineering, electrochemical engineering, engineering physics, general 
engineering, geological engineering, industrial engineering, mechanical 
engineering, metallurgical engineering, mining engineering, nuclear 
engineering, and petroleum engineering. These degree categories will 
remain listed under Category A.
    Acceptable computer science degrees under Category A must be 
accredited by the Computer Science Accreditation Commission of the 
Computing Sciences Accreditation Board or by the Computing 
Accreditation Commission of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and 
Technology on or before the date the degree was awarded. This 
requirement for computer science degrees under Category A remains 
unchanged by this notice. Based on the comments received, the USPTO 
will continue to evaluate this requirement in light of the type of 
computer science degrees (i.e., whether accredited or not) and the 
nature of computer science degrees generally awarded by colleges and 
universities.
    Starting in early 2020, the USPTO undertook a review of Category B 
applications to identify bachelor's degrees that are routinely accepted 
as demonstrating the requisite scientific and technical qualifications. 
This review is ongoing. Based on the analysis to date and comments 
received, and understanding that Category A cannot be an exhaustive 
list of all degrees that would qualify, the Office is expanding the 
above list of Category A degrees to expressly include the following 
degrees that are routinely accepted under Category B: Aerospace 
engineering, bioengineering, biological science, biophysics, 
electronics engineering, genetic engineering, genetics, marine 
engineering, materials engineering, materials science, neuroscience, 
ocean engineering, and textile engineering. Listing these Category B 
degrees under Category A will improve operating efficiency and 
streamline the application process for prospective patent 
practitioners.
    The USPTO also invited comments on any additional degrees that 
should be considered under Category A. Based on the comments received 
and a review of the applicants in the suggested degree categories over 
the past three calendar years (i.e., 2018 through 2020), the USPTO is 
also expanding the list of Category A degrees to expressly include the 
following degree: Environmental engineering. Other degree categories 
suggested by commenters were considered but are not being included 
under Category A at this time to allow for the additional collection 
and evaluation of data on these degree categories. For example, one of 
the degree categories suggested by commenters was artificial 
intelligence. In the past three calendar years, however, there have 
been no applicants with an artificial intelligence degree. The USPTO 
will continue to monitor degree categories as the degrees and data 
develop.
    The Office will continue to accept degrees where the transcript 
demonstrates equivalence to a Category A degree (For example, molecular 
cell biology may be equivalent to biology, and materials science and 
engineering may be equivalent to materials science.).\2\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \2\ See OED Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), available at 
www.uspto.gov/learning-and-resources/patent-and-trademark-practitioners/oed-frequently-asked-questions-faqs.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Administrative Update 2: Accept Advanced Degrees Under Category A

    Prior to this notice, Category A did not include post-baccalaureate 
degrees. Based on a review of applicants and the comments received, the 
USPTO is updating the GRB to list possession of a master's or a doctor 
of philosophy degree in a Category A subject as demonstrating 
acceptable technical and scientific training. This includes the newly 
added Category A degrees listed above and degrees where the transcript 
demonstrates equivalence to a Category A degree.

Administrative Update 3: Accept a Combination of Core Sciences Under 
Category B, Options 2 and 4

    Prior to this notice, Category B, Option 4 in the GRB required a 
combination of 40 credit hours in acceptable technical and scientific 
courses, including at least 8 hours in either chemistry with a lab or 8 
hours in physics with a lab. Category B, Option 2, which focuses on 
training in biology and related sciences, had a similar requirement. 
The requirement for lab-based core science courses is meant to ensure 
familiarity with the processes involved in conducting valid 
experiments, the scientific method, and proper analysis of scientific 
data.
    It is not clear whether multiple courses in either chemistry or 
physics alone, with a lab, provide an appreciable benefit over general 
core science training. Accordingly, the USPTO is revising Category B, 
Option 4 by changing ``8 semester hours in chemistry or 8 semester 
hours of physics . . . obtained in two sequential courses, each 
containing a lab'' to ``eight semester hours in a combination of 
chemistry, physics, and/or biology, with at least one course including 
a lab.'' Category B, Option 2, which already requires training in 
biology, is being revised to require at least ``eight semester hours in 
a combination of chemistry and physics, with at least one course 
including a lab.''

Andrew Hirshfeld,
Commissioner for Patents, Performing the Functions and Duties of the 
Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of 
the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
[FR Doc. 2021-20378 Filed 9-21-21; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-16-P