They outlined the harm to patent examination
done by diverting patent fees to the general treasury
and requiring the USPTO to pay more than $70
million annually for employee retirement benefits.
(USPTO and the U.S.Postal Service are the only
federal agencies that pay the Office of Personnel
Management to cover their retirees’ benefits.)These
practices contributed to the USPTO budget shortfall,
which in turn led to the recent hiring freeze.
During the halt in hiring,the USPTO has
continued to lose approximately 15-20 examiners
each biweek.POPA pointed to an outmoded USPTO
culture that has been too ready to fire examiners rather than
invest in the training and mentoring needed to improve their
performance and retain them.This historically high fire-and-
hire cycle has expended big bucks on initial examinetraining only
to lose many of the recently hired and begin
the cycle anew.The hiring freeze stopped this cycle,forcing
the agency to reexamine its personnel processes.
Discussing the USPTO’s future at a Nov.30 meeting.
Unless Congress directly addresses fee diversion, which
S.515 does not do, the above-noted problems are not going
away. Those things which S.515 does address are not that