Intellectual Property Owners Association

Serving the Global Intellectual Property Community

USPTO Funding

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The USPTO is a 100%-user fee funded agency. IPO has long advocated adequate funding for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and seeks to ensure that the USPTO has access to all user fees collected each year. A fully funded USPTO is a key to innovation and job creation and to strengthening the U.S. economy.

The most immediate funding challenge facing the USPTO  is the $85 billion “sequestration” of 2013 U.S. government funds that took effect on Friday, March 1. The USPTO faces significant spending reductions for the rest of fiscal year 2013 as a result of sequestration and has taken several measures to limit all expenditures, including but not restricted to hiring new patent examiners, travel, training, and IT modernization projects.  It is believed that about $121 million in user fees is at stake.

On June 28, 2013 Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA) introduced H.R. 2582 to restore sequestered funds to the USPTO and to add the USPTO to the list of agencies exempt from future sequestration orders. IPO strongly supports this bill. The USPTO should have access to 100 percent of its fees.  It costs tax payers nothing and does not add a cent to the national deficit.

Since 1991, about $1 billion in user fees have been withheld from the USPTO as a result of the practice of diverting user fees – collected from patent and trademark applicants – away from the Office to unrelated government programs. The America Invents Act, signed into law on September 16, 2011, created a “reserve account” in the U.S. Treasury to hold the fees collected by the USPTO that exceed its annual appropriation.  The law instructs the USPTO to look to appropriations acts for instructions on how to access the money. The FY 2012 appropriations bill did include instructions for the USPTO on how to access money in the reserve fund, however such language must be reinserted each future appropriations bill.  Therefore, the reserve account alone will not stop diversion and a more permanent fix is needed.

Bills:

H.R. 2582 — Patents and Trademarks Encourage New Technology Jobs Act A bill to end the application of sequestration to the United States Patent and Trademark Office, and for other purposes. (Rep. Honda; D-CA; introduced 6/28/2013; referred to the Committee on the Budget).

H.R. 3349 – Innovation Protection Act A bill to provide permanent funding for the United States Patent and Trademark Office, and for other purposes. (Rep. Conyers; introduced 10/28/2013; referred to the Committee on the Judiciary).

S. 2146 – Patent Fee Integrity Act A bill to establish a United States Patent and Trademark Office Innovation Promotion Fund, and for other purposes. (Sen. Feinstein, D-CA; introduced 3/13/2014; read twice and referred to the Committee on Judiciary).

Documents:

IPO Letter to Senator Feinstein in Support of the Patent Fee Integrity Act 03/12/2014
IPO Letter Supporting H.R. 3349 10/29/2013
IPO Letter to OMB re: Reconsideration of Whether the USPTO is Subject to Sequestration 08/12/2013
IPO Chart Showing the History of Fees Withheld from the USPTO Since 1991 07/22/2013
IPO Comments on Fee Setting Presented at the February 15, 2012 PPAC Hearing 02/29/2012
IPO Letter to Senate Leadership Urging an Anomaly for the USPTO 09/23/2011
IPO Comments on USPTO Provisions in H.J. Res. 79 09/21/2011
Understanding USPTO Fee Diversion 09/06/2011
Senate Letter on Fee Diversion Re: H.R. 1249 06/29/2011
Chairman Rogers Letter on Fee Diversion, H.R. 1249 06/22/2011
IPO Letter to House Leadership Supporting Sect. 22 of H.R. 1249 06/08/2011
IPO Letter to Senate Leadership on PTO FY 2011 PTO Funding 02/17/2011
IPO Letter to House Appropriators on PTO Funding 11/24/2010
IPO Letter to Senate Appropriators on PTO Funding 10/24/2010
IPO, AIPLA and IPL Letter on USPTO Funding and 2010 Continuing Resolution 10/01/2010
IPO Letter to Congress on the 2010 Continuing Resolution 09/28/2010
IPO Letter to Senate Appropriators Regarding PTO Supplemental For FY2010 07/16/2010
IPO, AIPLA, ABA Letter to Secretary Locke 07/14/2010