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Bill aims to solve USPTO funding crisis

James Nurton, London

A bill has been introduced in the House of Representatives that would finally end the diversion of USPTO fees away from the agency

HR3349 – To provide for the permanent funding of the USPTO, and for other purposes, was sponsored by Rep John Conyers and three other Representatives on October 28 and referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary.

Under the proposal, a revolving fund would be created in which USPTO fee revenues would be deposited. Revenues would be solely for use by the Office, and it would no longer be subject to the annual appropriations process.

Hopes that the America Invents Act would solve the USPTO’s funding problems have come to naught so far. Sequestration has led to hundreds of millions of dollars being diverted from the USPTO to other government work.

In an interview published in the AIPLA Daily Report last week, USPTO Deputy Director Teresa Stanek Rea said sequestration is “likely to have long-term negative implications across all parts” of the USPTO, meaning that patent backlog and pendency will increase.

Stanek Rea said the Agency planned to hire 750 new examiners in each of 2014 and 2015 to cope with the growing number of patent applications. Thanks to sequestration, it has halted most hiring, cut some outreach and education work and delayed moving into permanent space in the satellite offices in Dallas, Denver and Silicon Valley. It has also had to cut back on IT developments.

Welcoming the latest bill, AIPLA Executive Director Q Todd Dickinson said: “The time has come for Congress to provide the USPTO with the ability to do the work its customers pay for by ending the possibility of fee diversion, once and for all.”

During a Congressional hearing on the Innovation Act on Tuesday, former USPTO Director David Kappos also welcomed the Conyers bill.


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