The House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet and Intellectual Property today approved H.R. 1561, the "United States Patent and Trademark Fee Modernization Act of 2003." The Department of Commerce's United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is fully funded by user fees. The new fee structure contained in the legislation will fund USPTO's 21st Century Strategic Plan, the agency's five-year blueprint for improving patent and trademark quality and productivity.
"I want to thank Subcommittee Chairman Lamar Smith for moving this important legislation so quickly, and ranking member Howard Berman for his support" noted Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property, James E. Rogan. "Intellectual property-based enterprises represent the largest single sector of the U.S. economy. Chairman Smith and Congressman Berman recognize that fully funding USPTO's 21st Century Strategic Plan will promote economic growth by creating an agile organization worthy of the leadership role American intellectual property plays in the global economy."
Without the fees contained in H.R. 1561, quality and productivity will suffer. The USPTO will be unable to hire the people who make the best patent and trademark examiners, or certify their knowledge and competencies throughout their careers, or implement new quality initiatives, including the "second pair of eyes" program that has been so successful in processing business method patents. In addition, 140,000 patents will not be issued over the next five years. The inventory of unexamined patent applications will skyrocket to a backlog of over one million applications by 2008-more than double the current amount-and pendency (as measured from the time of filing) will jump to over 40 months average in the next few years.
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