obvIPat - Obviously Patentable

The blog for inventors, in-house counsel, & entrepreneurs.

The Obama Budget and The USPTO: Patent Reform The Executive Way

by Orlando Lopez

Included in the budget blueprint for the 2012 budget is a temporary surcharge on patent fees.  The purpose of the surcharge is to provide funds for the USPTO in order to deploy resources so that the present backlog in patent prosecution can be reduced. One element of the proposed patent reform has always been providing the USPTO with fee setting authority, which would allow the USPTO to decide which fees to raise, which to lower and which to keep the same.  Also desirable, although not part of the proposed patent reform, is the ability to keep the revenue generated by USPTO inside the USPTO. Both of those reforms would allow the USPTO to run like a typical business. Congress has not been successful in passing a reduced patent reform, one that aims at strengthening the USPTO without increasing its burden. The proposed budget appears to be the executive branch approach to patent reform. If the courts, the judicial branch, are doing it, why not the executive branch?

Although the proposed surcharge would provide extra funds to the USPTO in order to increase personnel and reduce the backlog, at first look, it is counter to usual economics; you are faced with an increased demand and therefore you increase prices. However, we have to remember that the USPTO is a monopoly-they are the only show in town. Also, we should not look a gift horse in the mouth. Let’s accept the executive branch approach to patent reform as a temporary stopgap.


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