By: Gene M. Garner II, Partner
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 Performance and Accountability Report (PAR), which is a comprehensive report on the state of the USPTO, is available online. According to a blog in the USPTO Director’s Forum by Jay Hoffman, USPTO Chief Financial Officer, the financial health of the USPTO is strong and highlights achievements such as having strong and healthy balances in both the USPTO patent and trademark operating reserves and removing “significant deficiency” associated with information technology (IT) internal security controls.
The performance highlights from page 2 of the FY 2021 USPTO PAR are reproduced below:
Additional FY 2021 USPTO PAR highlights include:
- patent application filings remained strong and finished the year with an upward trajectory while trademark application filings experienced “an unprecedented surge” in FY 2021;
- patent application filings exceeded 650,000 while trademark application filings exceeded 943,000, which was a record high;
- additional strides in patent timeliness were made, and a decade-long trend in improvement in patent application pendency continued;
- interim procedures were enacted to conform to the U.S. Supreme Court decision in the United States v. Arthrex, Inc. regarding the constitutionality of USPTO administrative patent judges (APJs) by providing parties a way to request USPTO Director review of Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) final decisions in inter partes review and post-grant reviews;
- additional tools to help business owners clear the federal Trademark Register of unused marks were implemented as part of the Trademark Modernization Act (TMA) of 2020;
- new trademark examining attorneys were hired and trained to address the surge in trademark applications and the resulting examination backlog;
- IT systems were upgraded;
- modernization of patent filings is continuing with a transition to DOCX filings;
- education and outreach programs were implemented to promote innovation;
- efforts toward global IP harmonization continued; and
- the Economic Relief Working Group, the Climate Working Group, and the Equity Working Group were established to assist with facilitating the nation’s economic recovery, tackling climate change, and increasing access to the IP ecosystem for all.