The Unleashing American Innovators Act: Promoting inclusive innovation under the new law

First, we must reach people where they are to bring them into the innovation ecosystem. The USPTO has been focused on outreach and impact, including the impact of the USPTO throughout the country. After hosting a two-day summit at our Rocky Mountain Regional Office in Denver, Colorado this past summer, we have been working on a plan to increase our geographic reach, and have been awaiting passage of the Unleashing American Innovators Act of 2022. Now that the bill is law, we are positioned to move forward quickly.

The bill supports USPTO’s expanded outreach efforts by requiring the USPTO to establish, within three years, a Southeast Regional Office, serving the states of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Arkansas. The bill also requires the USPTO to report out within two years on whether additional offices are necessary to further increase participation in the patent system by individuals who have historically been underrepresented in patent filings.

In addition to satellite offices, the bill calls for the USPTO to establish community outreach offices within five years, including one in the New England region and in areas of the country where minority business owners are not as prevalent to help increase the number of underrepresented inventors and entrepreneurs in those areas.

Second, we must reduce the innovation ecosystem’s barriers to entry. As a fee-funded agency, we continually need to assess and adjust fees to ensure we are recovering costs to produce the most robust and reliable IP protection possible. This work is critical to the U.S. economy in securing investment, innovation, and jobs in the U.S., and to advance an IP system that is accessible to all. Although small and micro entity fees help keep fees lower for those who are under-resourced, more needs to be done. Accordingly, the bill increased small entity discounts from 50 percent to 60 percent and micro entity discounts from 75 percent to 80 percent (view the updated USPTO fee schedule on our website).

While fees can pose a barrier to new entrants to our innovation economy, the fees charged by the USPTO are often dwarfed by the price of legal counsel. Recognizing that some applicants will need to proceed pro se (without legal counsel), the USPTO launched a Patent Pro Se Assistance Program to provide those applicants additional assistance on how to obtain a patent.

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