Streamlining the Qualification Process: Key Changes to the USPTO Patent Practitioner Registration

by Dennis Crouch

In the US, registered patent practitioners are required to have a science or engineering background. Over the past few years, the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has been refining the qualification process. Nearly all incoming patent attorneys qualify by either (A) possessing a specific degree (such as mechanical engineering) or (B) accumulating a sufficient number of university science or engineering credits. These two methods are referred to as Category A and Category B in the General Requirements Bulletin for Admission to the Examination for Registration to Practice in Patent Cases (GRB).

The USPTO previously simplified the path for potential registrants by including typical Category B degrees under Category A. The Office clarified that “incorporating these Category B degrees into Category A will enhance operational efficiency and expedite the application process for prospective patent practitioners.” Additionally, the Office began accepting advanced degrees under Category A.

Recently, the Office has taken several more steps:

1. Instituting a three-year review process to consider adding more qualifying degrees.
2. Abolishing the rule that computer science degrees can only qualify for Category A if they are from a program accredited by the Computer Science Accreditation Commission of the Computing Sciences Accreditation Board, or by the Computing Accreditation Commission of ABET.

These minor amendments will alleviate the pressure on patent applicants and reduce the workload of the Office of Enrollment and Discipline (OED).

The updated rules also clarify the conditions for non-US citizens seeking to register as patent attorneys. According to the regulations, non-citizens living outside the US are ineligible to register as US practitioners, with the exception of Canadians under 37 CFR 11.6(c). However, a non-citizen residing in the US can gain “limited recognition to practice” before the USPTO in patent matters, provided they can demonstrate that such activities are consistent with their immigration status. The USPTO will assess (1) the applicant’s permission to reside in the United States, and (2) the applicant’s authorization to work or receive training in the United States.

These revised regulations are effective immediately.

15 thoughts on “Streamlining the Qualification Process: Key Changes to the USPTO Patent Practitioner Registration

  1. 4

    Is there a reason why we make an exception for Canadians? I do not want to rescind the ability of Canadians to qualify, but if it is tolerable to allow Canadians to practice before the USPTO, then presumably it could be tolerable to allow other non-citizens (who possess the necessary qualifications and who can demonstrate the requisite competence by passing the exam) as well.

  2. 3

    I see the diaper-fillers-in-chief are the first to show up and cry that the sky is falling.



          I suppose that for you “within one hour” is immediate, so “meh” on that.

          However, what is MORE telling is your emulation of Malcolm (and that you appear to be unaware, not caring or perhaps both).

          It’s just not a good look for you.

  3. 1

    These minor amendments will alleviate the pressure on patent applicants and reduce the workload of the Office of Enrollment and Discipline (OED).



    What is the “pressure” for applicants that is being alleviated?

    Beyond the “gee, that sounds good” – what pressure exactly would an applicant have that is alleviated?

    And what workload for the OED is reduced? Making things different does not “reduce,” and in fact, the mere fact of changing things makes the workload increase.

    We need some actual journalism here — not the propaganda style “yes-man, will repeat whatever schlop you give us to say.”

    1. 1.2

      “What is the “pressure” for applicants that is being alleviated?

      “And what workload for the OED is reduced?”

      Well, in the case of removing the accreditation requirement for computer science degrees, it means that applicants with a computer science background no longer have to go through a fairly onerous process of documenting each of their computer science courses and additional science courses (e.g. 2 semesters of laboratory physics courses for engineers or physics majors).

      I attended two undergraduate schools and picked up a summer chemistry course at a third, then got a master’s degree at fourth school. Being admitted to practice before the PTO required going to four different cities in two states in order to make photocopies of printed course catalogs so that I could be admitted as a computer science major under Category B. That was a lot of trouble, and it made a small pile of paperwork that some poor soul at the PTO had to review to make sure all of the courses met their standards.

      Under the new rules it would have sufficed to say “I have a bachelor’s and master’s in computer science”, which would have saved both me and the PTO a lot of time and effort.

    2. 1.3

      Because it is made up (check the box) reduce work load BS, because isn’t there some regulation that requires a work load statement or economic impact statement for new regs?

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