By Donald Zuhn --
Last month, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office posted a notice on its website announcing the formation of a Working Group on Regulatory Reform "to consider, review, and recommend ways that USPTO regulations can be improved, revised, and streamlined." Members of the Working Group will be familiar with all of the agency's regulations, and will also represent the USPTO on the Department of Commerce's Regulatory Reform Task Force. The Office notes that the Working Group, which will be led by Nicolas Oettinger, Senior Counsel for Regulatory and Legislative Affairs in the USPTO's Office of General Counsel, will be seeking public input for any rulemaking that would revise or eliminate regulations. Stakeholders wishing to submit suggestions to improve, revise, and streamline USPTO regulations can do so by e-mailing those suggestions to RegulatoryReformGroup@uspto.gov.
According to the Office notice, the formation of the Working Group implements two Executive orders issued by President Trump -- Executive Order 13771, entitled "Presidential Executive Order on Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs," (January 30, 2017), and Executive Order 13777, entitled "Presidential Executive Order on Enforcing the Regulatory Reform Agenda" (February 24, 2017).
Executive Order 13771 states that "it is important that for every one new regulation issued, at least two prior regulations be identified for elimination, and that the cost of planned regulations be prudently managed and controlled through a budgeting process." The Executive Order further states that "[u]nless prohibited by law, whenever an executive department or agency (agency) publicly proposes for notice and comment or otherwise promulgates a new regulation, it shall identify at least two existing regulations to be repealed."
Executive Order 13777 requires that each agency designate an agency official as its Regulatory Reform Officer (RRO) by April 25, 2017, and also establish a Regulatory Reform Task Force. Pursuant to the Executive Order, each Regulatory Reform Task Force shall "evaluate existing regulations . . . and make recommendations to the agency head regarding their repeal, replacement, or modification, consistent with applicable law," and "[a]t a minimum, . . . shall attempt to identify regulations" that:
(i) eliminate jobs, or inhibit job creation;
(ii) are outdated, unnecessary, or ineffective;
(iii) impose costs that exceed benefits;
(iv) create a serious inconsistency or otherwise interfere with regulatory reform initiatives and policies;
(v) are inconsistent with the requirements of section 515 of the Treasury and General Government Appropriations Act, 2001 (44 U.S.C. 3516 note), or the guidance issued pursuant to that provision, in particular those regulations that rely in whole or in part on data, information, or methods that are not publicly available or that are insufficiently transparent to meet the standard for reproducibility; or
(vi) derive from or implement Executive Orders or other Presidential directives that have been subsequently rescinded or substantially modified.
Each Regulatory Reform Task Force shall also provide a report to the agency head by May 25, 2017, detailing the agency's progress toward, inter alia, "identifying regulations for repeal, replacement, or modification."