Earlier, this blog and others picked up on comments from PTO officials indicating that decreased rates of patent filings and allowances, coupled with the current economic morass, is translating into a toxic mix for the financial health of the USPTO.
Commerce Secretary Gary Locke is preparing to name the PTO Director in the coming days, and the odds-on favorites for the position are (1) Q. Todd Dickinson, (2) Jim Pooley and (3) David Kappos. Whoever gets selected, a giant mess awaits, according to Andrew Noyes, who writes in his Congress Daily article:
The Obama administration's selection of a Patent and Trademark Office director cannot come soon enough, according to officials inside the agency. They cite serious cash-flow problems, internal cutbacks and a downturn in the number of applications filed and patents granted amid continued U.S. economic gloom . . . If fee collection trends continue, PTO will take in $100 million below its projected year-end amount, according to a memo sent to employees Monday.Read "Cash-strapped Patent and Trademark Office awaits new leadership" (link)
The PTO . . . recently instituted a hiring freeze for virtually all of the agency's divisions . . . Officials have curtailed bonuses for all noncontractual awards, which affected those who do not belong to bargaining units, and they have slashed paid overtime for examiners starting this week.
[T]he PTO has told employees that furloughs and layoffs would be a last resort. The office has also significantly slowed its $250 million per year plan to install servers and energy-efficient equipment. The existing system has not been upgraded in almost a decade, and Budens said some are worried the agency's IT network is "hanging on by bubble gum and bailing wire."
Patently-O: "Economic Downturn => Downturn in Patent Filings" (link)
IPWatchdog: "USPTO Budget Crisis and the Anonymous Patent Examiner" (link)