Reducing Pendency and Maintaining Quality Top List of PTO Millennium Budget Priorities

Press Release

Brigid Quinn
Richard Maulsby

Q. Todd Dickinson, acting commissioner of patents and trademarks, will present an overview and take questions on President Clinton's FY 2000 budget request for the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) on Monday, February 1, 1998 at 2 p.m. in Room 1859 of the Department of Commerce, 14th and Constitution Ave., N.W. President Clinton is requesting $922 million to finance PTO's fiscal year 2000 corporate plan. The PTO, a bureau of the Department of Commerce, is fully funded by fees paid by users of the patent and trademark systems. The president's budget seeks no rescissions, resulting in fees collected from PTO's users remaining with the agency.

PTO's FY 2000 corporate plan is ambitious and will achieve an average cycle time of 10.2 months for all patent applications and allow examining attorneys to turn around trademark applications in 13.8 months. The budget is geared toward performance based-activities related to the agency's designation by the Clinton administration as a High Impact Agency. The majority of the $126 million increase over FY 1999 will go to improve customer service by funding initiatives that reduce pendency and ensure quality of patents and trademarks, including automation expansion.

What follows are some of the FY 2000 budget initiatives that combined will reduce pendency while ensuring quality. The agency will hire over 500 new patent examiners, bringing the total number to 3,300. All incoming U.S. patent applications will be converted to digital format. Patent classification and pre-searching will be performed electronically. All patents for biotechnology inventions with gene sequences, and all Patent Cooperation Treaty applications will be filed electronically. Trademark examining attorneys will increase to 375, and the agency's 282,000 trademark customers can continue to use the Internet to submit applications, and will be able to send in follow-up material electronically. Customers will also be able to obtain status information about pending patent and trademark applications, and order and receive information products on the Internet. PTO's website (, will offer free access to one of the largest, if not the largest, federal government databases, hosted in-house. The website will provide free Internet access to fully-searchable text and images of over 2 million U.S. patents and over one million pending and registered trademarks. This electronic library represents over 20 million document pages of invention and discovery in science and technology, and more than 120 years of marketing creativity.