PTO sealThe PTO needs more examiners and better information technology infrastructure to bring down pendency of applications and improve the quality of issued patents, but does not have the money to pay for them.  For years, Congress has taken the fees paid by applicants for patents and trademarks and used those funds for other purposes, leaving the PTO under-funded.   This behavior offends us and offends many inventors and trademark owners.

The Obama Administration recently published its budget proposal for FY 2011. The proposed budget for the PTO is $2.322 billion, which is made up of an expected $2.098 billion in fee collections and another $224 million in increased patent fees.  Although not expressly stated, simple addition shows that the entire amount of projected fees would go for PTO operations. The PTO projects that this budget will allow the agency to hire 1000 additional examiners and implement needed improvements in the PTO’s information technology system.  Of course, the budget must pass Congress, which has resisted funding for the PTO in the past.

— Robert Yarbrough, Esq.