Sent: Friday, December 19, 2003 6:54 PM
To: ethicsrules comments
Subject: Comments To Notice Of Proposed Rulemaking
There is a fatal flaw in the reasoning given for taxing patent practitioners with the proposed fees. As everyone is well aware, the PTO has long overcharged applicants through its fees and then diverted the excess funds to other governmental programs totally unrelated to the business of the PTO. For the PTO to say it is unfair for applicants to directly bear the costs associated with registering practioners and maintaining the list of practitioners while at the same time forcing applicants to fund programs that are outside of the PTO is pure hypocrisy. This hypocrisy is even more illuminated by the fact that registering practitioners is at least related to the business for which the applicants are being charged. The diverted funds, however, have absolutely no relation to the business for which the applicants are being overcharged.
There is another fatal flaw in the excuse given for charging practioners these fees. It is stated at page 69443 that "By adopting these fees to be paid by registered practitioners, the costs of these activities are not passed on to applicants." In accordance with well established, well proven economic principals, these fees will with absolute certainty be passed on to the applicants in one form or another, the most common form being through increased fees charged by the practitioners.
In short, 'the taxes that are to be imposed on practitioners will not serve any of the purposes stated in the proposal.
There are also numerous problems with the proposed privatization of administering the examination, including a certain increase in the costs associated with sitting for the examination and a decrease in the quality of practitioners who are allowed to pass the examination. These and other problems stem from the profit motive that is being introduced here. Unlike the PTO, the private tester must make a profit and this will result in higher fees associated with administering the exam. Again, its a simple matter of well established economic principals which seem to be conveniently ignored in these proposed rules. The profit motive will also result in a degradation of the examination process itself and the examination results as the private tester reduces manpower and materials required to effectively administer the exam. This in turn will greatly increase the risk that unqualified practioners will be licensed. The ultimate overall effect is a lessening of the expertise and professional capabilities among the patent practioner community as a whole, and 'this harms applicants and practioners alike.