“The plan says it is the intent of the USPTO to ‘clarify, revise, and formalize appropriate use of discretion in AIA trial proceedings to address and deter process abuse and promote alignment with the USPTO’s mission and the intent of the AIA.’”
Last week, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) announced that it is seeking comments from the public on the draft of the organization’s 2022-2026 Strategic Plan.
According to a press release, the plan sets five goals for the organization:
- Spur U.S. innovation and global competitiveness;
- promote IP rights;
- promote IP protection against new and persistent threats;
- bring innovation to positive impact; and
- maximize agency operations.
“Guided by our new plan, we will work across government and with stakeholders to drive innovation, entrepreneurship, and creativity, create jobs, and enhance global competitiveness and national security,” commented Kathi Vidal, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO, on the strategic plan.
Members of the public can submit their comments to the USPTO via email at firstname.lastname@example.org until January 31, and the final plan will be published in the spring of 2023.
The draft of the five-year strategic plan is wide in scope, focusing on issues from IP rights to innovation and supply chain resiliency.
“Now more than ever, we need the progress and growth that protected IP can provide, and we need an IP ecosystem that will cultivate an innovation mindset and catalyze inclusive innovation and entrepreneurialism, economic prosperity, U.S. competitiveness, supply chain resiliency, national security, and creative world problem-solving,” wrote Vidal in the opening to the strategic plan.
The Five Goals
The first goal of driving inclusive U.S. innovation and global competitiveness focuses on inclusivity and increasing diversity and parity in innovation and entrepreneurship. Recently, the USPTO has put added emphasis on decreasing gender disparities in patenting with a pilot program that was found to effectively improve outcomes for patent applicants without legal representation. The organization found the program was especially helpful for woman patent applicants.
With this goal, the USPTO is aiming to increase innovation in broad categories. In the draft, the organization wrote, “whether a veteran, a retiree, someone from a small town with few resources, or someone from a historically underrepresented IP stakeholder community, we want to reach every American and encourage their participation in our innovation ecosystem.”
As for increasing global competitiveness, the USPTO cites increasing the number of Americans participating in innovation as a significant key to competing with the world. The report also quotes Federal Reserve Governor Lisa Cook, who said, “GDP per capita could rise by 0.6% to 4.4% if more women and African Americans were included in the initial stages of the innovation process.”
In order to achieve this goal, the USPTO is planning to focus on programs and incentives for key emerging technologies, and increase outreach programs to more Americans, among other strategies.
The second and third goals of the plan both focus on IP rights. The second goal is to “promote the efficient delivery of reliable IP rights”, and the third is to “promote the protection of IP against new and persistent threats.”
To fulfill the second goal, the organization is planning to “work to optimize our technology, practices, policies, and rules.” Some of the strategies include implementing AI technology into the patent application system, continually training the PTAB workforce, and expediting the examination process in key technology areas.
In this section, the USPTO also acknowledges the increase in trademark fraud and scams and the organization details several ways it plans to implement technologies to better protect trademark owners.
The third goal also has an emphasis on curbing criminal activity in the IP field. The USPTO plans to continue to work with government agencies including the DOJ “to help raise awareness of fraudulent activity and fight back.”
The strategic plan mentions the America Invents Act (AIA), a piece of legislation that has been defended by some and drawn the ire of others. The plan says it is the intent of the USPTO to “clarify, revise, and formalize appropriate use of discretion in AIA trial proceedings to address and deter process abuse and promote alignment with the USPTO’s mission and the intent of the AIA.”
The section also references the Trademark Modernization Act (TMA) and the organization’s plans to better use the tools provided by the legislation.
Rounding It Out
Next, the strategic plan moves to its fourth goal, to “bring innovation to positive impact.” In other words, the USPTO wants to get “IP-protected goods and services into the hands of those who can benefit from them.”
An important component of this goal is to get funding, grants, and incentives into more innovators’ hands. In this area, the USPTO sees its role as assisting brand owners in securing funding and protecting IP holders from costly infringement litigation.
The authors of the strategic plan cite President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, which allows federal loans for U.S. energy projects that use technology to reduce, avoid, or sequester greenhouse gas emissions.
Additionally, the USPTO stated its intention to continue to collaborate with other government agencies to expand access to R&D money.
The final goal of the strategic plan is to “generate impactful employee and customer experiences by maximizing agency operations.” The main focus of this goal is attracting a diverse workforce and giving them the proper training, education, and tools.
This includes following the Department of Commerce’s 2022-2026 Strategic Plan, which “established an objective to optimize its diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA) practices to build a workforce that reflects the diversity of the American public.”
While light on concrete plans, the draft plan clearly follows the Office’s recent actions and focus points. The emphasis on increasing inclusion innovation, promoting the protection of IP rights, and attempting to update technology have been front and center in recent months and years.
“Overall, we are re-imagining the USPTO of the future, an agency that issues, upholds, and protects robust and reliable IP rights that incentivize innovation and commercial enterprises,” wrote Vidal.
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