Media Contact: Christine Glunz, 202.225.3072
Washington, DC – U.S. Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose) today hailed passage of the United States Patent and Trademark Fee Modernization Act of 2003, which passed in the U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 379 to 28. The legislation makes improvements for the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) by granting it permanent authority to collect and spend fees, which would limit future fee diversion to other government programs.
“I am constantly hearing from my constituents in Silicon Valley about the wait they face in obtaining patents from the Patent and Trademark Office with the average delay at 24.7 months,” Rep. Lofgren said. “Fee diversion, affects the quality of patents granted, not to mention pendency. Long delays mean greater risk for investors and uncertainty for competitors.”
The bill grants the Patent and Trademark Office permanent authority to collect and spend increased fees that are currently diverted in appropriations bills to other programs.
“Since 1992, approximately $600 million has been diverted from the PTO to other uses. According to the Patent Public Advisory Committee, this has created a crisis at the PTO,” said Lofgren. “There is a lack of adequate funding coupled with a significant increase in patent and trademark applications. Under these circumstances, we have seen some highly questionable patents issued over the last few years, especially with respect to business method patents. I would prefer to take the PTO out of the appropriation process altogether, but at least this compromise ends the cycle of diversion to unrelated government programs.”