FTC Announces Second Federal Register Notice with Revised Proposed Information Requests for Its Patent Assertion Entity Study; OMB Clearance Requested

For Your Information

The Federal Trade Commission announced today that it is issuing a second Federal Register notice (FRN) containing the revised proposed information requests for its study on patent assertion entities (PAEs) for clearance from the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The second FRN also calls for additional public comments as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act. The FTC’s study is designed to develop a better understanding of how PAEs may impact innovation and competition.

Comments on the proposed study can be submitted electronically. The second FRN will be published shortly. The deadline for submissions is thirty days from the date the second FRN is published.

PAEs are firms with a business model based primarily on buying patents and then attempting to generate revenue by asserting them against businesses that are already practicing the patented technologies. The FTC is conducting the study in order to further one of the agency’s key missions -- to examine cutting-edge competition and consumer protection topics that may have a significant effect on the U.S. economy.

The study was first announced on September 27, 2013. The FTC previously received 70 comments in response to an initial Federal Register notice seeking public input on the usefulness and burden of the proposed information collection requests.

The majority of commenters expressed support for the study, and some commenters recommended revisions to the study’s scope. No commenter opposed the study. Some commenters suggested revisions to reduce the burden on the businesses that would be asked to provide information.

The FTC has carefully considered and implemented many of these suggestions in order to sharpen the focus of the study and reduce its likely burden on study respondents. In particular, the Commission:

  • worked with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to minimize the collection of publicly available patent data from study respondents;
  • clarified that the study will include two case studies: one describing PAE activity generally, and one that compares PAE assertion activity to that of manufacturers and non-practicing entities in the wireless chipset sector;
  • simplified and narrowed many study questions, and created a spreadsheet that will enable study respondents to more easily respond to the information requests;
  • narrowed the study timeframe by one year; and
  • made several other changes to collect information that is most important for the study.

The second Federal Register notice includes all specific changes to the information requests and informs the public that the FTC is seeking OMB clearance. The FTC will accept public comments on this second FRN until 30 days after the FRN is published. Further comment instructions are included in the second FRN. OMB has 60 days to act on the request for clearance after the FTC officially submits its request to the agency, but cannot take action before the 30-day comment period expires.

The Commission vote approving the second Federal Register Notice was 5-0.

The FTC’s Office of Policy Planning works with the Commission and its staff to develop long-range competition and consumer policy initiatives, consistent with the FTC’s unique mission to conduct research and engage in advocacy on issues that affect competition, consumers, and the U.S. economy. The Office of Policy Planning submits advocacy filings; conducts research and studies; organizes public workshops; issues reports; and advises staff on cases raising new or complex policy and legal issues. To reach the Office of Policy Planning, send an e-mail to opp@ftc.gov. Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, read our blogs, and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.

Contact Information

MEDIA CONTACT:
Peter Kaplan
Office of Public Affairs
202-326-2334