By Christopher P. Singer --
In a Notice published in the Federal Register (73 Fed. Reg. 47534) on Thursday, October 30, 2008, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office published its burden and cost analysis for proposed continuing information collection relating to maintenance fee submissions, and requested comments to the proposed collection.
The Office breaks its analysis down into terms of costs associated with "burden hours" (correlating to attorney billable hours) and costs associated with PTO-related fees and surcharges. The PTO estimates the total number of burden hours to be 33,426 hours per year, which incorporates a split of time for tasks performed by attorneys (primarily petitions) and paraprofessionals. Those hours correlate to a total cost of $4,632,630 per year (at $310/hour for associates, $100/hour for paraprofessionals). The PTO estimates the total respondent cost burden relating to PTO-based fees and surcharges to be $614,571,323, which includes costs such as filing fees, surcharges for late payments, petition fees, postage costs, and recordkeeping costs (see, e.g., 37 C.F.R. §§ 1.20(e)-(i); 1.17(g)-(f)). The bulk of this estimate relates to payment of the actual maintenance fees.
In the Notice, the PTO requests submission of comments 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). A summary of these comments will form part the request for OMB approval of this information collection and will become a matter of public record.
Comments can be submitted by e-mail to Susan.Fawcett@uspto.gov (Include "0651-0016 Comment" in the subject line of the message); facsimile: 571-273-0112 (to the attention of Susan Fawcett; U.S. mail (addressed to Susan K. Fawcett, Records Officer, Office of the Chief Information Officer, Customer Information Services Group, Public Information Services Division, United States Patent and Trademark Office, P.O. Box 1450, Alexandria, VA 22313-1450) or by the Federal Rulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov. Comments must be submitted on or before December 29, 2008.
Requests for additional information should be directed to Robert A. Clarke, Director, Office of Patent Legal Administration, United States Patent and Trademark Office, P.O. Box 1450, Alexandria, VA 22313-1450; by telephone at 571-272-7735; or by e-mail to Robert.Clarke@uspto.gov.