USPTO Calls for Input on Draft 2022-2026 Strategic Plan

“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.’”

Strategic PlanLast 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:

  1. Spur U.S. innovation and global competitiveness;
  2. promote IP rights;
  3. promote IP protection against new and persistent threats;
  4. bring innovation to positive impact; and
  5. 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 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.

IP Rights

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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One comment so far.

  • [Avatar for Eric Berend]
    Eric Berend
    January 23, 2023 05:22 pm

    {Please note, this comment was posted to the article on IPWatchdog “New USPTO Tool Aims to Help IP Newbies Identify Their Rights”, 2023/01/21; it looks to be more appropriate, to post it here}

    I am (or was…) an Inventor son of an Inventor. My father, David E. Berend, brought the Voltra, an electric car design in both fully-electrified and ‘hybrid’ versions to the 1961 New York Auto Show. This was at a time when there were four major-market Auto Shows in the world. There are six now worldwide, for about the past thirty years.

    The Voltra was presented in a frame and power-plant working model that had passed its engineering proof-of-concept trials, having produced fuel usage of 66 and 68 miles per gallon. It was constructed with a tubular frame of dimensions that would fit a Lotus Elite (Type 14). The ‘hybrid drive’ model would today, be recognized as being nearly identical in its fundamental technology as a Toyota Prius or similar automobile.

    Most of his inventing work was directed towards improvements of lead-acid batteries and in particular, advances in electrolytes to expand effective operating temperature range and power output. I also recall being shown a sound recorder device in a Bakelite box approximately the size of a loaf of bread, where there was no reliance on phonographic discs or drums, as had been the standard with vinyl records and albums for musical recording.

    Having grown up during the 1960’s to early 1970’s and seeing my father’s struggles to succeed that often challenge inventors, I was for quite some time, not well motivated to pursue inventing; until certain innovative ideas occurred to me. I could not see these ideas simply die through apathy or neglect, and so I found myself engaging in the invention process, much as my father had, before me.

    He passed away in 2014. His sound recording invention, died with him.

    It has been at least five years since I paid much attention to the patent space, having seen the handwriting on the wall as to the exploitation and abuses of trust recently imposed on American Inventors. Prior to that time, I was earnestly engaged in invention and development of four inventions, including an electrical power generation plant design with a potential to substantially replace most conventional fuel-fired plants, that outputs ‘steady state’ baseload; much as with a coal or natural gas powered plant.

    In the face of some of the most powerful and corrupt entities in the world, dedicated to plundering my inventions and burying even mere credit for my inventions, I, as with many other U.S. inventors, abhor the current U.S. patenting process and its chicanerous traps, and therefore refuse to disclose or take on any more risk of invention theft and heartbreak, and have moved on to other pursuits in my life.

    It should be quite clear by now, that I am far from alone in this response to the plunder of our genius works by domestic and international legal, legislative and ‘BigTech’ interests which for about two decades now, have steadfastly eviscerated patent protections for Inventors, in a grotesque mockery of the U.S. Constitution’s Article I, Section 8, Clause 8.

    Since that time, other exigencies and interests have brought me to certain relevant experiences in civil litigation, including protracted motion practice, while acting in my own interest. There, I was subjected to a modest cross-section of the disdain and chicanery that the vast majority of the legal profession, as well as many judges, regard those of us representing our interests ‘pro se’. Certain dirty tricks, that denizens of ‘the society of the Esquires’, would seldom if ever, perpetrate upon their colleagues.

    Such disdain permeates the treatment of Inventors in the U.S.A. by the industrial and legal interests described above, today; and for at least the past 20 years. One only need examine the actual text of the AIA where the practice and application of BRI at the USPTO, violates the clearly stated intent of Congress in modifying and updating aspects of the patent re-examination procedures.

    In the negotiations precedent to the enactment of the AIA, Broadest Reasonable Interpretation was justified on the basis that in the establishment of re-exam before the USPTO, the inventor is allowed unlimited revision of claims; whereas before the PTAB, only an option to cancel a disputed claim, is allowed. And this, at the sole behest of the ALJ presiding over any given PTAB procedure.

    As it now stands, U.S. Inventors have been reduced to legal beggars in the land our forefathers fought for.

    Whatever objections there have been about the manifest un-Constitutionality of PTAB ALJ’s not being founded in Article III yet wielding Art. III powers, the above swindle upon U.S. inventors is at the very heart of the differences between court and PTAB proceedings.

    Even though this point was explicated prior to the enactment of the AIA, this fundamental aspect has since, been blithely ignored. Whatever other problems or deceptions the AIA introduced, without recognizing, addressing and correcting this unlawful abuse of applicable process, the central ‘modus operendi’ of the PTAB and the attendant USPTO practices, will remain antagonistic to Inventors’ interests and continue to effectively and thoroughly discourage our involvement in the current manifestly treacherous U.S. patent system.