Saturday, June 29, 2013

Patents And Trademarks Encourage New Technology (PATENT) Jobs Act to End Sequestration for USPTO in Fiscal Year 2013 and Exempt the USPTO from Sequestration in Fiscal Years 2014-2021

Here's a bit of good news for US patent applicants. Local Congressman Mike Honda (D-San Jose), Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose) and Congresswoman Anna G. Eshoo (D-Palo Alto) have introduced the Patents And Trademarks Encourage New Technology (PATENT) Jobs Act that will end sequestration for the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in Fiscal Year 2013 and exempt the USPTO from sequestration in Fiscal Years 2014-2021.

The PATENT Jobs Act would enable USPTO to access fees sequestered in Fiscal Year 2013, which would be otherwise untouchable. Budget sequestration is important to patent applicants because these federal budget cuts are expected to remove $150 million from the USPTO's fiscal budget in 2013. The bill is a response to a California delegation letter to the Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations Subcommittee asking for a fix to the problem of sequestration.

Apparently, sequestration has slowed the rate of patent grants in the last two months. At least Professor Crouch says, "With the sequester, the USPTO has slowed its operation somewhat over the past two months. As a result, fewer patents issued per week in May/June 2013 than in prior months. That Professor Crouch also predicted the Office is still on track to issue a record number of patents in 2013 -- an approximate 5% increase over 2012 shouldn't be taken as the gospel or obscure that sequestration has slowed the grant rate. Of course this matters because in May 2013, the USPTO patent dashboard stated that it had 596,159 patent applications in backlog that have not been examined. The bill sponsors state startups and innovators experience "a costly two-year wait for a patent to be issued."

Sequestration has delayed opening of the USPTO satellite offices. Congressman Mike Honda states without passage of the PATENT Jobs Act "the budget reduction effectively stops the agency from opening new, highly anticipated regional patent offices across the country, including the satellite office in Silicon Valley."

Congressman Mike Honda also said, "USPTO is funded entirely by fees paid to the agency, making it fundamentally different than other government spending. Congress intended for these fees to be used solely to carry out USPTO’s operations, not the government at large. Our bill will prevent the application of sequestration to USPTO fee revenue so that the Silicon Valley office can open as scheduled and USPTO can continue the progress that has been made on reducing the patent application backlog, which is vital for ensuring America’s economic competitiveness."

Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren noted, "It is very short-sighted to hold back the new products and cutting edge technologies that can grow our economy. Our bill is very simple and reaffirms a long held belief that inventors who pay fees should receive speedy services and patents for their inventions. The services and speed these new offices offer can make the difference for products to go from the drawing board to the marketplace faster, benefiting all of us with the growth and job creation that come with it."

Congresswoman Anna Eshoo said, "The U.S. Patent Office has been crucial to economic growth and innovation in America. Sequestering this self-funded agency is illogical and sets it up to fail. These cuts will exacerbate the patent backlog and stifle efforts to connect Silicon Valley innovators with a satellite patent office. Our legislation will enable USPTO to implement reforms and programs years in the making so that the agency can continue to foster the wealth of knowledge and innovation across America."

Congress should pass the PATENT Jobs Act to allow the USPTO to move forward without delay on establishing the permanent facility of the satellite office in Silicon Valley. During discussions leading up to passage of the America Invents Act (AIA) Congress emphasized how important it would be for the USPTO to keep its user fees to support its operations. I enjoy watching our local Congress act on this problem so let's see where it goes.

Copyright © 2013 Robert Moll. All rights reserved.