Setting and Adjusting Patent Fees During Fiscal Year 2017
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (Office or USPTO) proposes to set or adjust patent fees as authorized by the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (Act or AIA). The USPTO is a business- like operation where external factors affect the productivity of the workforce and the demand for patent products and services. The proposed fee adjustments are needed to provide the Office with a sufficient amount of aggregate revenue to recover its aggregate cost of patent operations (based on current projections), while maintaining momentum towards achieving strategic goals. This rulemaking represents the second iteration of patent fee rulemaking by the USPTO to set fees under the authority of the AIA; the first AIA patent fee setting rule was published in January 2013. This current rulemaking is a result of the USPTO assessing its costs and fees, as is consistent with federal fee setting standards. Following a biennial review of fees, costs, and revenues that began in 2015, the Office concluded that further targeted fee adjustments were necessary to continue funding patent operations, enhance patent quality, and continue to work toward patent pendency goals, strengthen the Office's information technology (IT) capability and infrastructure, and achieve operating reserve targets. Further, in several instances, the fee change proposals offered during the biennial fee review process were enhanced by the availability of cost and workload data (e.g., the number of requests for a service) that was not available in 2013. As a result, the 205 proposed fee adjustments outlined in this proposed rule align directly with the Office's strategic goals and four key fee setting policy factors, discussed in detail in Part V.