Beginning in March of 2022, the USPTO will require patent practitioners registered with the office to submit a mandatory registration statement biennially. The registration statement includes an acknowledgement that the practitioner has completed 6 credits of CLE within the previous 24 months. The above notice requests public comment on the proposed types of CLE courses and activities that will qualify for credit. Currently, the guidelines state that courses pertaining to any of the topics listed in 37 CFR 11.5(b)(1) may be taken in order to make the statement. Practitioners may also earn a limited number of credit hours by participating in the USPTO Patent Pro Bono Program or via service in a law school clinic participating in the USPTO Law School Clinic Certification Program.
The proposed guidelines set forth that the USPTO is to be the provider of USPTO CLE credit, although any state bar approved ethics course may be used to satisfy the ethics portion. The Guidelines do not set forth a procedure for other providers to obtain approval of courses for USPTO CLE. Public comment is invited on the specific procedures that could be implemented by the USPTO to provide such approval, as well as the merits of the same.