Patent Law Updates | New Proposed Legislation
March 8, 2011
USPTO’s Budget Request for FY 2012 Includes Plan to Expand Patent Examining Corps by 1,500 More Examiners
USPTO Budget for Fiscal Year 2012
USPTO 2010-2015 Strategic Plan, 2/14/2011
Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) David Kappos has announced details of President Obama’s $2.71 billion fiscal year (FY) 2012 budget request for the USPTO.
The USPTO anticipates collecting $2.71 billion in patent and trademark fees during FY 2012. As a fully user-fee funded organization, the USPTO’s funding is derived exclusively from fees paid by users of the patent and trademark system.
The $2.71 billion budget request represents a 16 percent increase over the FY 2011 budget request of $2.32 billion and is attributable to a projected significant increase in patent and trademark applications.
The FY 2012 budget will contribute to America’s innovation economy and promote economic growth and competitiveness by cutting the average overall processing time of a patent application from 35 months to 20 months by 2015. This investment will also enable the USPTO to effectively implement some key pendency reduction initiatives.
Under the recently announced Three-Track proposal, patent applicants can elect to accelerate their highest priority applications and have these applications processed within 12 months for a cost recovery-based fee. Applicants can also elect processing at the current average processing time (Track 2) or to defer examination and the payment of fees (Track 3).
The investment will also enable implementation of much-needed 21st century information technology (IT) systems and advance the USPTO’s global leadership in intellectual property (IP) policy making and protection.
“Innovation is a key driver of growth for the U.S. economy, and IP rights play an essential role in bringing new innovations to market,” said Under Secretary Kappos. “We are committed to making the USPTO more efficient and reducing the unacceptably long pendency patent processing times, so that the ingenuity of the American people can flourish and help to boost our economy and create jobs.”
The budget will fund a number of key initiatives that fulfill the commitments outlined in the USPTO 2010-2015 Strategic Plan. Among those included in the budget request are:
• Expanding patent examining corps by hiring 1,500 examiners, of which 500 would replace examiner attritions, and 300 will be dedicated to Track 1 accelerated examination processing in order to ensure that other applications are not adversely effected.
• Reengineering patent processes to increase efficiency.
• Facilitating work sharing arrangements with foreign intellectual property offices which help reduce patent pendency by eliminating unnecessary duplication of work between offices.
• Establishing a nationwide workforce by expanding telework and focusing on hiring examiners with previous intellectual property experience from around the country.
• Continuing with the development and implementation of a new generation of patent and trademark IT systems.
A projected $2.71 billion in fee collections would be used to fund the budget request. These fee collections will be derived from the current user fee schedule, and include an 1.4 percent adjustment on patent statutory fees consistent with the annual Consumer Price Index (CPI) increase, and assumes implementation of the 15 percent surcharge on patent fees that was proposed for FY 2011.
To fulfill the commitments in the USPTO 2010-2015 Strategic Plan and the FY 2012 budget, the USPTO needs the flexibility to set fees along with other improvements contained in proposed patent reform legislation, as well as the resources provided by both the FY 2011 and FY 2012 budget requests.
The Obama Administration continues to support granting the USPTO fee-setting authority as a significant part of a sustainable funding model that would allow the Director to propose and set fees in a manner that better reflects the actual cost of USPTO services.
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