Monday, August 29, 2005

If fee diversion isn't going to stop, why bother with HR 2795?

Within a story about a yet-to-be-released report from the National Academy of Public Administration [NAPA] recommending the USPTO become a government corporation headed by a CEO with strong business experience, one finds dismal news about the problem of fee diversion by Congress:

A bill to let the agency keep its fees -- which amounted to about $800 million over the last 12 years -- was introduced earlier this year. But the future of the measure, H.R. 2791, is in doubt because appropriators are unwilling to forgo their revenue stream, industry officials said.

If fee diversion does not stop, where will the PTO find the money to pay for all the new responsibilities within H.R. 2795, including inequitable conduct and oppositions? No one is addressing this problem, which is the problem which needs to be solved.

Also within the story from -->

The American Intellectual Property Law Association (AIPLA) supports incorporating PTO. "We believe that allowing the PTO to function as a government corporation would greatly enhance the ability of the office to retain fee revenues to process their work," AIPLA Director Mike Kirk said.

Historically, PTO has had to remit to federal coffers all of the fees it collects from patent applications. Congress has redirected much of that money to other agencies even as the backlog in processing applications has grown.

The NAPA report endorses the end to such fee diversion. PTO "needs to continue to have access to the fees it collects without fiscal-year limitation so that it may achieve efficiencies with steady stream funding and improve its ability to hire and retain the ... workers critical to its mission," the memo said.

Turnover among patent examiners is high. Most leave the agency within three to five years. With such high attrition, seasoned examiners must be pulled off cases to train new workers, Kirk said.


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