[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 237 (Monday, December 10, 2012)]
[Pages 73452-73453]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-29637]



Patent and Trademark Office

Grace Period Study

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 new information collection, as required 
by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, Public Law 104-13 (44 U.S.C. 

DATES: Written comments must be submitted on or before February 8, 

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments by any of the following methods:
     Email: [email protected]. Include ``0651-
00xx Grace Period Study 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 Jim Moore, Attorney Advisor, 
Office of Governmental Affairs, United States Patent and Trademark 
Office, P.O. Box 1450, Alexandria, VA 22313-1450; by telephone at 571-
272-5661; or by email to [email protected] with ``Paperwork'' in 
the subject line.


I. Abstract

    The United States' grace period, which permits exceptions to 
absolute novelty, figures centrally in the international discourse on 
patent law harmonization. The grace period allows individuals to 
improve upon their ideas by sharing them with the research and business 
communities without jeopardizing their intellectual property interests. 
Many European countries, however, lack adequate grace periods. The 
consequences of this are not fully understood. Few studies in the past 
ten years have dealt with the grace period, and none of them have 
quantified the effects of premature disclosure on researchers' failure 
to apply for or receive patents. To study this issue, the USPTO plans 
to conduct a study to estimate the commercial opportunities lost as a 
result of the lack of grace periods.
    As part of this study, the USPTO plans to survey European 
scientific researchers from select European research institutions. The 
results from this USPTO-sponsored study would provide current, 
quantitative data on the effects of the premature disclosure on 
European patenting. The data collected from the survey can be used to 
estimate the value of lost commercial opportunities in Europe due to 
the lack

[[Page 73453]]

of grace periods for these patents. This study would support the 
USPTO's efforts to be a leader on intellectual property matters 
internationally and to promote efficiency and cooperation in the global 
patent system.
    The USPTO plans to survey scientific researchers affiliated with 
select European universities who have published journal articles 
disclosing potentially patentable materials during a five year period. 
The universities will be selected from the Times Higher Education 
university rankings for specific, patent-intensive research areas.
    The USPTO envisions that the respondents will be surveyed only 
once. The survey may be distributed in waves for convenience.
    The Grace Period Study survey will be an electronic survey. The 
cover letter that will be distributed with the survey will reference 
the journal article used to identify the respondent, explain why the 
USPTO is conducting the survey, explain that the responses will be kept 
confidential, and provide instructions on how to access the survey. 
Pre-response and reminder letters, in addition to a brief non-response 
follow-up for a small sample of nonrespondents, will be used to 
encourage response from the sample members.
    This is a voluntary survey and all responses will remain 
confidential. The 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 a username, 
password, and survey ID number.

II. Method of Collection

    Electronically over the Internet through a secure, third-party 
survey distributor using access information supplied by IIPI.

III. Data

    OMB Number: 0651-00xx.
    Form Number(s): No form numbers.
    Type of Review: New information collection.
    Affected Public: Businesses or other for-profits and non-profit 
    Estimated Number of Respondents: 420 responses per year. The USPTO 
estimates that no responses will be received from small entities. Out 
of a sample size of 3,000, the USPTO estimates that 420 completed 
surveys will be received, for a response rate of 14%. This estimate is 
based on the response rate of a similar survey of German researchers 
conducted by the German Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF).
    Estimated Time per Response: The USPTO estimates that it will take 
approximately 10 minutes (0.17 hours) to complete this survey. This 
estimated time includes reading the instructions for the survey, 
gathering the necessary information, completing the survey, and 
submitting it to the USPTO.
    Estimated Total Annual Respondent Burden Hours: 71 hours.
    Estimated Total Annual Respondent Cost Burden: $3,287. The USPTO 
estimates that scientists will be completing these surveys and that 
their hourly rate will be comparable to the hourly rate for scientists 
in the United States. Using the hourly mean rate of $46.29 from the 
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for physical scientists and others, the 
USPTO estimates $3,287 per year for the respondent cost burden for this 

                                                                  Estimated time     Estimated       Estimated
                              Item                                 for response       annual      annual  burden
                                                                       (min)         responses         hours
Grace Period Study Survey.......................................              10             420              71
    Totals......................................................  ..............             420              71

    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.

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: December 4, 2012.
Susan K. Fawcett,
Records Officer, USPTO, Office of the Chief Information Officer.
[FR Doc. 2012-29637 Filed 12-7-12; 8:45 am]