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USPTO Great Seal

Its surprising to think that any government agency would actually have its fiscal act together.  And its even more surprising when said government agency decides to reduce its fees because it has an ‘operating reserve.’  But that’s exactly what the United States Trademark Office has promised to do.

Specifically, the Trademark Office claims that they will be reducing many of the trademark registration filing fees by 15-25%, including for registration renewals. Most of the reductions are geared towards filers who file via the Trademark Office’s e-file system, “TEAS”, and agree to accept e-mail communications from the Trademark Office (as opposed to paper mail). The USPTO proposes  to decrease the filing fees by $50 to $275 (per class) for applications meeting those criteria. Even more savings may be available for “TEAS Plus” filers, an additional reduced fee program having more restrictions than the regular TEAS filing process.

For more on the Trademark Office’s (and USPTO’s) operating reserve, see Deputy Director of the USPTO, Miichelle K. Lee’s update on the USPTO’s sustainable funding goals, here.

The proposal to reduce fees was announced in a Federal Register notice published back in May.  According to USPTO personnel, the reduced fees will encourage more applicants to file electronic applications, thereby increasing efficiency and saving costs. Apparently, the reduced fees have already been taken into consideration in formulating the Trademark Office’s 2015 fiscal budget. While not confirmed yet, the new fee structure should go into effect on January 1, 2015.

While its true that certain provisions of the America Invents Act helped push through the fee changes, the Trademark Office itself deserves some credit. For years, the Trademark Office has been intensively studying application pendency times, operating costs and fee structures.  Mountains of graphs and statistics on these and other parameters have been generated and discussed with intellectual property attorneys and trademark owners at public meetings and at the USPTO’s traveling conferences (e.g., “The Trademark Office Comes to California”).  More important though, administrative divisions at the Trademark Office, such as Trademark Operations (who overseas examination and processing of trademark applications) use the terms “customer service” and “efficiency” often; particularly when digging into all of those generated numbers, statistics and graphs.

Its too bad all government government agencies don’t evaluate their services in terms of “customer service” and “efficiency” more often.