[Federal Register Volume 83, Number 53 (Monday, March 19, 2018)]
[Pages 11993-11994]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2018-05468]

[[Page 11993]]



 Patent and Trademark Office

Ombudsman Survey

ACTION: Revision of a currently approved collection, comment request.


SUMMARY: The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), as 
required by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, invites comments on a 
proposed extension of an existing information collection.

DATES: Written comments must be submitted on or before May 18, 2018.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments by any of the following methods:
     Email: [email protected]. Include ``0651-
0078 comment'' in the subject line of the message.
     Federal Rulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov.
     Mail: Marcie Lovett, Records and Information Governance 
Division Director, Office of the Chief Technology Officer, United 
States Patent and Trademark Office, P.O. Box 1450, Alexandria, VA 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Requests for additional information 
should be directed to Michael Easdale, Office of Patent Quality 
Assurance, United States Patent and Trademark Office, P.O. Box 1450, 
Alexandria, VA 22313-1450; by telephone at 571-272-3533; or by email to 
[email protected] with ``0651-0078 comment'' in the subject 
line. Additional information about this collection is also available at 
http://www.reginfo.gov under ``Information Collection Review.''


I. Abstract

    In 2011, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) 
designed and developed the Patents Ombudsman Program in response to 
customer feedback that the prosecution of patent applications does not 
always advance in accordance with established procedures. The USPTO 
implemented the Ombudsman program to assist patent applicants, 
attorneys, and agents in resolving problems, issues, and concerns 
arising during the prosecution of a patent application. The objectives 
of the Patents Ombudsman Program are to: (1) Facilitate complaint-
handling for pro se applicants and applicant's representatives whose 
applications have stalled in the examination process; (2) track 
complaints to ensure each is handled within ten business days; (3) 
provide feedback and early warning alerts to USPTO management regarding 
training needs based on complaint trends; and (4) build a publicly 
accessible database of frequently asked questions that address commonly 
seen problems and provide effective resolutions. Participation in the 
Ombudsman program is voluntary and does not preclude the applicant's 
use of other avenues for redress of issues, including the filing of 
various patent process petitions. The program averages over 3,000 
requests for assistance from approximately 1,800 unique customers each 
year. The Ombudsman program is free and open to all participants in the 
patenting process.
    This collection covers information gathered on the Ombudsman 
Survey. This survey is a key component in the USPTO's evaluation of the 
Ombudsman program, providing a mechanism to monitor the effectiveness 
of the program and identify potential opportunities for enhancement of 
the Ombudsman process. This survey allows USPTO to gain consistent, 
reliable, and representative information from customers who use the 
Ombudsman program. The survey consists of 9 questions, and is sent 
every Spring to applicants/attorneys who have provided an email address 
and utilized the Ombudsman program within the past fiscal year. The 
survey is accessed through individualized links that are uniquely tied 
to the survey participants thereby eliminating the need for passwords, 
user IDs, or usernames to access the surveys. The survey period is open 
for a period of five (5) weeks. Customers not responding within the 
initial three (3) weeks will be sent a second email message and link 
seeking their participation.
    There are no statutes or regulations requiring the USPTO to conduct 
this usage and satisfaction measurement. The USPTO uses the survey 
instrument to implement Executive Order 12862 of September 11, 1993, 
Setting Customer Service Standards, published in the Federal Register 
on September 14, 1993 (Vol. 58, No. 176).

II. Method of Collection

    Web-based survey.

III. Data

    OMB Number: 0651-0078.
    IC Instruments and Forms: No form numbers.
    Type of Review: Revision of a Previously Existing Information 
    Affected Public: Individuals or households; businesses or other 
for-profits; and not-for-profit institutions.
    Estimated Number of Respondents: 1,100 responses per year. It is 
estimated that 1,800 unique customers use the Ombudsman program each 
year, and based on previous surveys, we estimate that the majority of 
them will respond to future surveys. The number of responses to this 
survey should adequately represent all Patent Examining Technology 
    Estimated Time per Response: The USPTO estimates that it will take 
the public approximately 5 minutes (0.08 hours) to submit the 
information in this collection, including the time to access the 
survey, gather any materials needed, fill out the survey, and submit 
the completed item to the USPTO.
    Estimated Total Annual Respondent Burden Hours: 91.67 hours.
    Estimated Total Annual Respondent (Hourly) Cost Burden: $33,435.42. 
The USPTO expects that both professionals and paraprofessionals will 
complete these surveys, with 75% being completed by professionals and 
25% by paraprofessionals. The current professional hourly wage rate is 
$438 and the rate for paraprofessionals is $145. The professional 
hourly rate used for the calculation is the average rate for attorneys 
in private firms as published in the 2016 Report of the Economic Survey 
by the American Intellectual Property Law Association (AIPLA). The 
paraprofessional hourly rate comes from 2017 National Utilization and 
Compensation Survey published by the National Association of Legal 
Assistants (NALA). Using the combined hourly rate of $364.75, the USPTO 
estimates that the respondent cost burden for this collection will be 
$33,435.42 per year as shown in the table below.

               IC No.                         Item            Estimated time  for       annual       Estimated annual    Rate ($/hr)    Estimated annual
                                                               response (minutes)      responses       burden hours                       cost burden
                                     ......................  (a)..................             (b)   (a) x (b) / 60 =             (d)    (c) x (d) = (e)
1..................................  Ombudsman Survey......  5 mins. (0.08 hours).           1,100              91.67         $364.75         $33,435.42
    Total..........................  ......................  .....................           1,100              91.67  ..............          33,435.42

[[Page 11994]]

    Estimated Total Annual (Non-Hour) Respondent Cost Burden: $0. There 
are no capital start-up, maintenance, postage, or recordkeeping costs 
associated with this information collection.

IV. Request for Comments

    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.
    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.

Marcie Lovett,
Records and Information Governance Division Director, OCTO, United 
States Patent and Trademark Office.
[FR Doc. 2018-05468 Filed 3-16-18; 8:45 am]