By Executive Order dated February 24, 2017, President Donald J. Trump proclaimed: “It is the policy of the United States to alleviate unnecessary regulatory burdens placed on the American people.” In this Executive Order, President Trump ordered the heads of each agency to designate a Regulatory Reform Officer (RRO) within 60 days. The RRO will oversee the implementation of the regulatory reform initiatives and policies, including what will become a significant streamlining of the regulatory estate in America.
In addition to the designation of a Regulatory Reform Officer, the Patent Office (along with many other agencies) is required to create a Regulatory Reform Task Force, which will be made up of the RRO, the agency Regulatory Policy Officer, a representative from the USPTO’s central policy office, and at least three other senior level USPTO officials as determined by the Director of the USPTO.
Earlier today the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) announced that Director Michelle Lee “has assembled a Working Group on Regulatory Reform to consider, review, and recommend ways that USPTO regulations can be improved, revised, and streamlined.” According to the announcement, the members of the USPTO Working Group will also make up the USPTO regulatory Reform Task Force.
The names of the members of the Working Group/Task Force were not provided in the USPTO announcement, although the announcement does say: “Nicolas Oettinger, Senior Counsel for Regulatory and Legislative Affairs in the USPTO’s Office of General Counsel, will lead this effort.” That presumably means that Oettinger has been designated the Regulatory Reform Officer by Director Lee, although that remains unconfirmed.
Given that Oettinger was not specifically identified as the Regulatory Reform Officer, and further given the names of those on the Working Group/Task Force were not provided in the USPTO announcement, I reached out to the USPTO Communications Office for comment. I was told the USPTO press office does not have any information on those who have been selected to the Working Group/Task Force, so they were unable to provide any information other than what was in the brief announcement posted this morning.
The Regulatory Reform Task Force has been ordered by President Trump to evaluate existing regulations and make recommendations to the Director of the USPTO regarding their repeal, replacement, or modification, consistent with applicable law.
At a minimum, the Executive Order requires each Regulatory Reform Task Force to attempt to identify regulations that:
- eliminate jobs, or inhibit job creation;
- are outdated, unnecessary, or ineffective;
- impose costs that exceed benefits;
- create a serious inconsistency or otherwise interfere with regulatory reform initiatives and policies;
- are inconsistent with the requirements of section 515 of the Treasury and General Government Appropriations Act, 2001 (44 U.S.C. 3516 note), or the guidance issued pursuant to that provision, in particular those regulations that rely in whole or in part on data, information, or methods that are not publicly available or that are insufficiently transparent to meet the standard for reproducibility; or
- derive from or implement Executive Orders or other Presidential directives that have been subsequently rescinded or substantially modified.
When considering the recommendations of the Regulatory Reform Task Force, the agency heads have been told to prioritize those regulations identified as being outdated, unnecessary, or ineffective.
The Regulatory Task Force has very little time to show progress, with the first progress report scheduled for 90 days from the date of the Executive Order, which would be on or before May 25, 2017.
The USPTO is requesting the public submit any ideas to improve, revise, and streamline USPTO regulations via e-mail to: RegulatoryReformGroup@uspto.gov.