Friday, November 11, 2005

SURPRISE, SURPRISE - USPTO IS LOOKING AT THE POSSIBILITY OF HIKING FEES AGAIN - It is interesting that, hot on the heels of Congress making gestures to eliminate fee diversion, the Congressional Quarterly is reporting that fee increases are being considered to "generate more revenue" for the USPTO.

The bill (H.R. 2791), sponsored by Judiciary Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., R-Wis., is intended to provide more resources for an agency that lawmakers say is underfunded, overworked and staggering under a backlog of nearly 500,000 pending patent applications.

Citing delays and patent quality, the bill would make permanent a new patent application fee
schedule enacted late last year. The increased revenue is intended to enable the patent agency to hire an additional 2,900 examiners and move to full electronic processing of applications. While not providing any further details, the bill would require the patent office to rebate to applicants any revenue from fees that exceeds the agency's appropriation.

As I suspected, the issue of patent examination quality is becoming a classic "your money or your life" situation with the USPTO. Knowing that businesses are concerned over such issues, the USPTO has parlayed these concerns into a quest to grab more money without providing accountability in return. USPTO management currently has no meaningful way of actually punishing shoddy work product (unless it gets really bad). Accordingly, the USPTO turns to the classic governmental cure-all (i.e. more money) to proclaim that without more funding, we are all doomed to a future of sub-standard patents . . .

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