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United States Patent Applicant Survey

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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Proposed collection; comment request.


The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), as part of its continuing effort to reduce paperwork and respondent burden, invites the general public and other Federal agencies to take this opportunity to comment on the extension of a currently approved collection, as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, Public Law 104-13 (44 U.S.C. 3506(c)(2)(A)).


Written comments must be submitted on or before August 2, 2010.


You may submit comments by any of the following methods:

  • E-mail: Include “0651-0052 comment” in the subject line of the message.
  • Fax: 571-273-0112, marked to the attention of Susan K. Fawcett.
  • Mail: Susan K. Fawcett, Records Officer, Office of the Chief Information Officer, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, P.O. Box 1450, Alexandria, VA 22313-1450.
  • Federal e-Rulemaking Portal:
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Requests for additional information should be directed to the attention of Gerard Torres, Economist, Office of Corporate Planning, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, P.O. Box 1450, Alexandria, VA 22313-1450; by telephone at 571-272-4951; or by e-mail at with “Paperwork” in the subject line.

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I. Abstract

For several years the USPTO has supported an ongoing forecasting program for patent application filings that includes the use of quantitative and qualitative methodologies. Given the importance of accurate application filing forecasts, the USPTO considers more than one type of methodology. As part of this strategy, information from a survey of the inventor community is included when formulating application filing forecasts. In addition to using the survey as part of a comprehensive approach to forecasting, the USPTO is also using this tool in response to Senate Appropriations Report 106-404 (September 8, 2000). This report directed the USPTO to “develop a workload forecast with advice from a representative sample of industry and the inventor community.” A patent application filing survey assists the USPTO in better understanding key factors driving future application filings, such as newly emerging technologies.

The USPTO developed the United States Patent Applicant Survey as part of the continuing effort to better predict the future growth of patent application filings by understanding applicant intentions. The main purpose of this survey is to determine the number of application filings that the USPTO can expect to receive over the next three years from patent-generating entities, ranging from large domestic corporations to independent inventors.

In recent decades, the rate of patent application filings to the USPTO steadily increased with expanding technological innovations. However, newly emerging technologies, evolving business patenting strategies, patent valuations and costs, and intellectual property legislative changes, among other factors, may significantly impact patent applicants' decisions to file applications at the USPTO. These factors cannot easily be accounted for in other methodologies or sufficient information is not available from databases or other sources. Therefore, it is necessary for the USPTO to conduct the Patent Applicant Survey to obtain information directly from applicants. The information will allow the agency to anticipate demand and estimate future revenue flow more reliably; to identify input and output triggers and allocate resources to meet and understand customer needs; and to reassess output and capacity goals and re-align organization quality control measures with applicant demand by division.

The Patent Applicant Survey is a mail survey, although respondents have the option to complete the survey electronically. They may also provide their responses verbally over the telephone. A survey packet, containing the survey, a cover letter explaining the purpose of and outlining instructions for completing the survey, and a postage-paid, pre-addressed return envelope will be mailed to all survey groups. The USPTO plans to survey four groups of respondents: Large domestic corporations (including those with 500+ employees), small and medium-size businesses, universities and non-profit research organizations, and independent inventors. The USPTO does not plan to survey foreign entities and will rely on the European Patent Office (EPO) and the Japan Patent Office (JPO) to provide forecasts of application filings by foreign entities. Due to variances in filing and the varying needs of the different patent applicant populations, the USPTO has developed two versions of the survey: One for the large domestic corporations and small and medium-size businesses and one for universities, non-profit research organizations, and independent inventors.

The surveys do not have USPTO form numbers associated with them and once they are approved, they will carry the OMB Control Number and the expiration date of the information collection.

II. Method of Collection

By mail or electronically over the Internet when respondents elect the online option to complete the survey.

III. Data

OMB Number: 0651-0052.

Form Number(s): None.

Type of Review: Extension of a currently approved collection.

Affected Public: Business or other for profit; not-for-profit institutions.

Estimated Number of Respondents: 400 responses per year. Of this total, the USPTO expects that 267 surveys will be completed using the online option.

Estimated Time Per Response: The USPTO estimates that it will take approximately 30 minutes (0.50 hours) for all of the patent applicant populations to provide their responses, with the exception of the independent inventors. The USPTO estimates that it will take independent inventors approximately 15 minutes (0.25 hours) to provide their responses. These estimates include the time to gather the necessary information, complete the Start Printed Page 30774survey, and submit it to the USPTO. The USPTO believes that it will take the same amount of time to complete the surveys whether they are completed on paper and mailed to the USPTO or completed and submitted electronically.

Estimated Total Annual Respondent Burden Hours: 140 hours per year.

Estimated Total Annual Respondent Cost Burden: $17,080 per year. The USPTO estimates that 31% of the respondents completing these surveys will be lawyers, about 9% will be legal assistants, and 60% will have diverse occupations. Using the professional hourly rate of $325 for intellectual property lawyers, a legal assistant specializing in intellectual property rate of $100, and a rate of $20 for the majority of the respondents, the USPTO believes that the average hourly rate for completing these surveys will be approximately $122 ($101 + $9 + $12). The professional rate used for the intellectual property lawyers is based on the median rate for attorneys in private firms as published in the 2009 report of the Committee on Economics of Legal Practice of the American Intellectual Property Law Association. This report summarized the results of a survey with data on hourly billing rates. The estimated hourly rate used for the legal assistants specializing in intellectual property is based on the rates for the 2008 National Utilization and Compensation Survey, published in March 2008 by the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA). Due to the many different occupations that can possibly be held by the majority of respondents, the USPTO is estimating $20 per hour as the hourly rate for those respondents. Therefore, the USPTO estimates that the salary costs for the respondents completing these surveys will be $17,080.

ItemEstimated time for response (minutes)Estimated annual responsesEstimated annual burden hours
Large Domestic Corporations302714
Large Domestic Corporations (electronic surveys)305327
Small and Medium-Size Businesses30189
Small and Medium-Size Businesses (electronic surveys)303719
Universities and Non-Profit Research Organizations3053
Universities and Non-Profit Research Organizations (electronic surveys)30105
Independent Inventors158321
Independent Inventors (electronic surveys)1516742

Estimated Total Annual Non-Hour Respondent Cost Burden: $0 per year. There are no capital start-up, maintenance, or recordkeeping costs associated with this collection. Respondents do not submit filing or other fees with the surveys. The USPTO provides postage-paid, pre-addressed return envelopes for the completed mail surveys so there are no postage costs associated with this information collection.

IV. Request for Comments

Comments are invited on: (a) Whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information shall have practical utility; (b) the accuracy of the agency's estimate of the burden (including hours and cost) of the proposed collection of information; (c) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (d) ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on respondents, e.g., the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology.

Comments submitted in response to this notice will be summarized or included in the request for OMB approval of this information collection; they will also become a matter of public record.

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Susan K. Fawcett,

Records Officer, USPTO, Office of the Chief Information Officer.

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[FR Doc. 2010-13163 Filed 6-1-10; 8:45 am]