Sens. Chris Coons, D-Delaware; and Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, introduced legislation March 22 that will extend the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s fee setting authority, established by the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act of 2011.

In exchange for this financial autonomy that facilitates long-term planning and investment, the bill would hold the USPTO accountable for making it a priority to complete the transition to modern information technology systems, as well as planning for future incorporation of emerging technologies in the examination process, where appropriate.

IT systems are critical for the USPTO’s mission to issue patents and trademarks, but some of their systems are outdated, and the modernization process presents challenges. This makes it more important that the USPTO be forward-thinking in adopting next-generation IT technologies, as the bill encourages through its reporting requirements. To this end, the Building Innovation Growth through Data for Intellectual Property Act of 2018 will call for the USPTO to set forth a plan on how it will use advanced data science to improve consistency of examination, detect common sources of error and improve productivity.

“I am pleased to introduce this bipartisan bill with Sen. Hatch that extends the USPTO’s authority to set its own fees while calling upon the agency to report on its IT modernization efforts and how it will incorporate emerging new technologies into the examination process,” said Coons. “By all accounts, the USPTO has responsibly exercised its authority to set the prices for its services, so it makes sense to continue to allow the USPTO to do so. At the same time, the public needs to be assured that the USPTO is not just completing updates of its IT systems, but actively exploring the use of cutting-edge technologies like machine learning and big data to ensure that the examination process keeps up with state of the art.”

The bill text is available at bit.ly/2G3RxWo.