by Dennis Crouch
The SUCCESS Act (HR 6758) has now passed through both the House and Senate and will very likely be signed into law by President Donald Trump within the next couple of weeks.
The key aspect of the bill is extension of USPTO fee setting authority that ended in September 2018 (7 years after AIA enactment). Under the new law, USPTO will retain authority to set its own fee structure until September 2026 (15 years from AIA enactment).
Section 10(i)(2) of the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (Public Law 112–29; 125 Stat. 319; 35 U.S.C. 41 note) is amended by striking “7-year” and inserting “15-year”.
Under the law, the USPTO Director has authority to “set or adjust by rule any fee established, authorized, or charged under [either the Patent Act or the Trade Mark Act] for any services performed by or materials furnished by the Office.” The one caveat is that the fee structure must be designed “only to recover the aggregate estimated costs to the Office for processing, activities, services, and materials relating to patents (in the case of patent fees) and trademarks (in the case of trademark fees), including administrative costs of the Office with respect to such patent or trademark fees (as the case may be).”
The “SUCCESS Act” portion of the legislation is an acronym for the “Study of Underrepresented Classes Chasing Engineering and Science Success Act of 2018” and begins with the following findings:
- Patents and other forms of intellectual property are important engines of innovation, invention, and economic growth.
- Many innovative small businesses, which create over 20 percent of the total number of new jobs created in the United States each year, depend on patent protections to commercialize new technologies.
- Universities and their industry partners also rely on patent protections to transfer innovative new technologies from the laboratory or classroom to commercial use.
- Recent studies have shown that there is a significant gap in the number of patents applied for and obtained by women and minorities.
In addition, the legislation includes the following “sense of Congress”:
It is the sense of Congress that the United States has the responsibility to work with the private sector to close the gap in the number of patents applied for and obtained by women and minorities to harness the maximum innovative potential and continue to promote United States leadership in the global economy.
The legislation does not actually do anything but does require the PTO Director along with the SBA Administrator to conduct a study that:
- Identifies publicly available data on the number of patents annually applied for and obtained by, and the benefits of increasing the number of patents applied for and obtained by women, minorities, and veterans and small businesses owned by women, minorities, and veterans; and
- provides legislative recommendations for how to— (A) promote the participation of women, minorities, and veterans in entrepreneurship activities; and (B) increase the number of women, minorities, and veterans who apply for and obtain patents.
Within 1 year, the PTO Director will provide a report to Congress on the results.