[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 68 (Monday, April 9, 2012)]
[Pages 21086-21087]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-8485]



United States Patent and Trademark Office

Patents External Quality Survey (formerly Customer Panel Quality 

ACTION: Proposed collection; comment request.


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 this extension 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 June 8, 2012.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments by any of the following methods:
     Email: [email protected]. Include ``0651-
0057 Patents External Quality Survey comment'' in the subject line of 
the message.
     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 Martin Rater, Management 
Analyst, Office of Patent Quality Assurance, United States Patent and 
Trademark Office, P.O. Box 1450, Alexandria, VA 22313-1450; by 
telephone at 571-272-5966; or by email to [email protected] with 
``Paperwork'' in the subject line.
    Additional information about this collection is also available at 
http://www.reginfo.gov under ``Information Collection Review.''


I. Abstract

    For over the past 10 years, the USPTO has used surveys to obtain 
customer feedback regarding the products, services, and related service 
standards of the USPTO. The USPTO used the data to measure how well the 
agency is meeting established customer service standards, to identify 
any disjoints between customer expectations and USPTO performance, and 
to develop improvement strategies. Typically, these surveys ask 
customers to express their satisfaction with the USPTO's products and 
services based upon their interactions with the agency as a whole over 
a 12-month period.
    In order to obtain further data concerning customer ratings of the 
USPTO's services, service standards, and performance, the USPTO 
developed the Patents External Quality Survey. This survey narrows the 
focus of customer satisfaction to examination quality and uses a 
longitudinal, rotating panel design to assess changes in customer 
perceptions and to identify key areas for examiner training and 
opportunities for improvement. The USPTO plans to survey patent agents, 
attorneys, and other individuals from large domestic corporations 
(including those with 500+ employees), small and medium-size 
businesses, and universities and other non-profit research 
organizations. In addition, the USPTO also plans to survey independent 
inventors. The USPTO does not plan to survey foreign entities.
    The USPTO will draw a random sample of these customers from their 
database. Due to the rotating panel design, some sample members will be 
surveyed twice in order to measure change over a period of time. Each 
year of the survey will include two waves of data collection.
    The Patents External Quality Survey is a mail survey, although 
respondents can also complete the survey electronically on the Web. The 
content of both versions will be identical. A survey packet containing 
the questionnaire, a separate cover letter prepared by the Commissioner 
of Patents, a postage-paid, pre-addressed return envelope, and 
instructions for completing the survey electronically will be mailed to 
all sample members. A pre-notification letter, reminder/thank you 
postcards, and telephone calls will be used to encourage response from 
sample members.
    This is a voluntary survey and all responses will remain 
confidential. The

[[Page 21087]]

collected data will not be linked to the respondent and contact 
information that is used for sampling purposes will be maintained in a 
separate file from the quantitative data. Respondents are not required 
to provide any identifying information such as their name, address, or 
Social Security Number. In order to access and complete the online 
survey, respondents will need to use the username, password, and survey 
ID number provided by the USPTO.

II. Method of Collection

    By mail or electronically over the Internet if respondents choose 
to complete the survey online.

III. Data

    OMB Number: 0651-0057.
    Form Number(s): No form numbers.
    Type of Review: Extension of a currently approved collection.
    Affected Public: Individuals or households; businesses or other 
for-profits; and non-profit institutions.
    Estimated Number of Respondents: 2,500 responses per year, with an 
estimated 75 submitted by small entities. Out of a sample size of 2,750 
for each wave of data collection, the USPTO estimates that 1,250 
completed surveys will be received, for a response rate of 45%. This 
estimate was based on the response rates of the previous survey waves 
that the USPTO has conducted. Each year of the survey will include two 
waves of data collection with an estimated 2,500 completed surveys 
received annually (1,250 completed surveys x 2 waves of the survey). Of 
this total, the USPTO estimates that 20% (500) of the surveys will be 
returned by mail and that 80% (2,000) of the surveys will be completed 
using the online option.
    Estimated Time Per Response: The USPTO estimates that it takes the 
public approximately 10 minutes (0.17 hours) to complete either the 
paper or online version of this survey. This estimated time includes 
gathering the necessary information, completing the survey, and 
submitting it to the USPTO.
    Estimated Total Annual Respondent Burden Hours: 425 hours.
    Estimated Total Annual Respondent Cost Burden: $144,500. The USPTO 
estimates that attorneys will be completing these surveys. Using the 
professional hourly rate of $340 for attorneys in private firms, the 
USPTO estimates $144,500 per year for the respondent cost burden for 
this collection.

                                                                     time for        Estimated       Estimated
                              Item                                   response         annual       annual burden
                                                                     (minutes)       responses         hours
Customer Panel Quality Survey...................................              10             500              85
Electronic Customer Panel Quality Survey........................              10           2,000             340
    Totals......................................................  ..............           2,500             425

    Estimated Total Annual Non-hour Respondent Cost Burden: $0. There 
are no annual (non-hour) costs for this information collection. The 
USPTO covers the costs of all survey materials and provides postage-
paid, pre-addressed return envelopes for the completed mail surveys.

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, e.g., 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 also will become a matter of public record.

    Dated: April 4, 2012.
Susan K. Fawcett,
Records Officer, USPTO, Office of the Chief Information Officer.
[FR Doc. 2012-8485 Filed 4-6-12; 8:45 am]