[Federal Register Volume 75, Number 55 (Tuesday, March 23, 2010)]
[Notices]
[Pages 13728-13729]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2010-6312]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

Patent and Trademark Office


Practitioner Records Maintenance, Disclosure, and Discipline 
Before the United States Patent and Trademark Office

ACTION: Proposed collection; comment request.

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SUMMARY: The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), as part 
of its continuing effort to reduce paperwork and respondent burden, 
invites the general public and other Federal agencies to take this 
opportunity to comment on the revision of a continuing information 
collection, as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, Public 
Law 104-13 (44 U.S.C. 3506(c)(2)(A)).

DATES: Written comments must be submitted on or before May 21, 2010.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments by any of the following methods:
     E-mail: [email protected]. Include A0651-0017 
Practitioner Records Maintenance, Disclosure and Discipline Before the 
United States Patent and Trademark Office [email protected] in the subject line 
of the message.
     Fax: 571-273-0112, marked to the attention of Susan K. 
Fawcett.
     Mail: Susan K. Fawcett, Records Officer, Office of the 
Chief Information Officer, United States Patent and Trademark Office, 
P.O. Box 1450, Alexandria, VA 22313-1450.
     Federal Rulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Requests for additional information 
should be directed to the attention of Christine Nucker, Enrollment and 
Discipline Administrator, United States Patent and Trademark Office, 
Mail Stop OED, P.O. Box 1450, Alexandria, VA 22313-1450; by telephone 
at 571-272-6071; or by e-mail to [email protected].

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. Abstract

    The Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office 
(USPTO) has the authority to establish regulations governing the 
conduct and discipline of agents, attorneys, or other persons 
representing applicants and other parties before the USPTO (35 U.S.C. 
2, 32 and 33). The USPTO Code of Professional Responsibility (37 CFR 
10.20 to 10.112) describes how attorneys or practitioners should 
conduct themselves professionally and outlines their responsibilities 
for recordkeeping and reporting violations or complaints of misconduct 
to the USPTO, while the Investigations and Disciplinary Proceedings 
rules (37 CFR 11.19 to 11.61) dictate how the USPTO can discipline 
attorneys and practitioners.
    The USPTO Code of Professional Responsibility requires an attorney 
or agent to maintain complete records of all funds, securities, and 
other properties of clients coming into his or

[[Page 13729]]

her possession, and to render appropriate accounts to the client 
regarding the funds, securities, and other properties. These 
recordkeeping requirements are necessary to maintain the integrity of 
client property. Each State Bar requires its attorneys to perform 
similar record keeping.
    The Code also requires an attorney or agent to report knowledge of 
certain violations of the Code to the USPTO. If the complaint is found 
to have merit, the USPTO will investigate and possibly prosecute 
violations of the Code. The Director of the Office of Enrollment and 
Discipline (OED) may, after notice and opportunity for a hearing, 
suspend, exclude, or disqualify any practitioner from further practice 
before the USPTO based on noncompliance with the regulations.
    Practitioners who have been excluded or suspended from practice 
before the USPTO must keep and maintain records of their steps to 
comply with the suspension or exclusion order. These records serve as 
the practitioner's proof of compliance with the order.

II. Method of Collection

    By mail, facsimile, or hand delivery to the USPTO when an 
individual is required to participate in the information collection.

III. Data

    OMB Number: 0651-0017.
    Form Number(s): There are no forms associated with this collection.
    Type of Review: Revision of a currently approved collection.
    Affected Public: Individuals or households; businesses or other for 
profits; not-for-profit institutions.
    Estimated Number of Respondents: 635 responses.
    Estimated Time per Response: The USPTO estimates that it will take 
the public approximately 2 to 40 hours, depending upon the complexity 
of the situation, to gather the necessary information, maintain the 
required records, prepare the complaint, and submit the various 
documents in this information collection to the USPTO.
    Estimated Total Annual Respondent Burden Hours: 12,330 hours.
    Estimated Total Annual Respondent Cost Burden: $1,275,120. At $100 
per hour for a para-professional/clerical worker, the USPTO estimates 
$1,197,000 per year for salary costs associated with respondents for 
the recordkeeping requirements in this collection. For complaint/
violation reporting, the USPTO predicts that half of the complaints 
will be filed by practitioners and that the remaining complaints will 
be split evenly between non-legal professionals and semi-professionals 
or skilled trades persons. The USPTO estimates that it will cost 
practitioners $325 per hour, non-legal professionals $156 per hour, and 
semi-professionals or skilled trades persons $60 per hour to submit a 
complaint, for a weighted average rate of $217 per hour. Considering 
these factors, the USPTO estimates $78,120 per year for salary costs 
associated with filing a complaint, for a total annual respondent cost 
burden of $1,275,120 per year.

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                                                                  Estimated time     Estimated       Estimated
                              Item                                 for response       annual       annual burden
                                                                    (in hours)       responses         hours
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Recordkeeping Maintenance (including financial books and records              26             445          11,570
 such as trust accounts, fiduciary accounts, operating accounts,
 and advertisements)............................................
Recordkeeping Maintenance Under Suspension or Exclusion from the              40              10             400
 USPTO..........................................................
Complaint/Violation Reporting...................................               2             180             360
                                                                 -----------------------------------------------
Total...........................................................  ..............             635          12,330
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    Estimated Total Annual (Non-hour) Respondent Cost Burden: $487. 
There are no capital start-up costs, maintenance costs or filing fees 
associated with this information collection. There are, however, 
postage costs.
    The public may submit the complaints in this collection to the 
USPTO by mail through the United States Postal Service. If these 
documents are sent by first-class mail, a certificate of mailing for 
each piece of correspondence, stating the date of deposit or 
transmission to the USPTO, may also be included. The USPTO expects that 
180 complaints will be mailed to the USPTO with first-class postage, 
with 50% or 90 complaints weighing 2 ounces at an average cost of 61 
cents for a total of $55; and 50% or 90 complaints weighing 1 pound at 
an average cost of $4.80 for a total of $432. Therefore, this 
information collection has a total of $487 in annual (non-hour) 
respondent cost burden.

IV. Request for Comments

    Comments are invited on: (a) Whether the proposed collection of 
information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of 
the agency, including whether the information shall have practical 
utility; (b) the accuracy of the agency's estimate of the burden 
(including hours and cost) of the proposed collection of information; 
(c) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the 
information to be collected; and (d) ways to minimize the burden of the 
collection of information on respondents, including through the use of 
automated collection techniques or other forms of information 
technology.
    Comments submitted in response to this notice will be summarized or 
included in the request for OMB approval of this information 
collection; they will also become a matter of public record.

    Dated: March 16, 2010.
Susan K. Fawcett,
Records Officer, USPTO, Office of the Chief Information Officer.
[FR Doc. 2010-6312 Filed 3-22-10; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-16-P