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Statement of Budgetary Resources

The below table displays the USPTO’s total budgetary resources available for spending over the past five years, with the related percentage change.

Budgetary Resources Available for Spending
Resources FY 2006 FY 2007 FY 2008 FY 2009 FY 2010
Budgetary Resources Available for Spending (Dollars in Millions) $1,680.1 $1,794.5 $1,916.6 $1,981.2 $2,161.6
Percentage Change 11.2% 6.8% 6.8% 3.4% 9.1%
Patent Examiners 4,779 5,477 6,099 6,242 6,225
Percentage Change 14.4% 14.6% 11.4% 2.3% (0.3)%
Trademark Examining Attorneys 413 404 391 388 378
Percentage Change 15.7% (2.2)% (3.2)% (0.8)% (2.6)%

As presented above, total budgetary resources available for spending increased with a 9.1 percent change and a 28.7 percent increase over the past five fiscal years. Through FY 2008, the increase in available budgetary resources was used to fund the increased cost of additional human capital to address the backlog of patent applications and the decrease in patent and trademark filings. In FY 2009, the increase in available budgetary resources minimally covered inflationary increases and was $200 million less than planned for. As a result, budget reductions and cost-savings measures were implemented. However, while fee collections were showing a rebound at the beginning of FY 2010, we were operating under a smaller appropriation that was based on the FY 2009 financial picture with lower than average fee collections. This was a result of the slower economy and actual collections in FY 2009. As we are an Agency funded entirely by user fees, this affects our operations significantly.

As the economy has begun showing signs of recovering, the Patent and Trademark application filings have also been slowly recovering.

Patent and Trademark Filings
Filings FY 2006 FY 2007 FY 2008 FY 2009 FY 2010
Patent Filings 445,613 468,330 496,886 486,499 509,3671
Percentage Change in Patent Filings 8.8% 5.1% 6.1% (2.1)% 4.7%
Trademark Filings 354,775 394,368 401,392 352,051 368,939
Percentage Change in Trademark Filings 9.7% 11.2% 1.8% (12.3)% 4.8%
1. Preliminary data. (back to text)

The USPTO was initially appropriated and apportioned up to $1,887.0 million of fee collections. As the fiscal year progressed, it was identified that our fee collections would exceed the anticipated fee collections, as appropriated by Congress. We worked with the Department of Commerce, Office of Management and Budget, and Congress to pass a supplemental appropriation to spend an additional $129.0 million in actual fee collections. This additional spending authority is being used for hiring additional examiners, funding full overtime for examiners and support staff, accelerating examination process reengineering, and continuing to increase examination capacity by contracting for PCT searches. Mission-critical information technology projects to increase the effectiveness of every USPTO function will also be accelerated.

USPTO operations rely on patent maintenance fees to fund a portion of the work being completed each fiscal year. During FY 2010, maintenance fees collected increased $126.4 million, or 23.1 percent, from FY 2009. As maintenance fees are one of the largest sources of budgetary resources and are recognized immediately as earned revenue, any fluctuations in the rates of renewal have a significant impact on the total resources available to the USPTO. To some extent, renewals recoup costs incurred during the initial patent process. As shown on page 56, the renewal rates for all three stages of maintenance fees increased during FY 2010. The renewal rates have rebounded as the economy rebounds.

Legislation was passed in July 2009 that allowed the USPTO to use surplus funds from Trademark revenues to cover any shortfalls that may occur as the result of the decrease in Patent fee collections [H.R. 3114]. The authority to use these funds lasted until June 2010. As such use of Trademark funds was not necessary, no funds must be paid back to the Trademark organization.

As defined earlier, temporarily unavailable fee collections occur when the USPTO is not appropriated the authority to spend all fees collected during a given year. During FY 2010, the USPTO collected $52.5 million in fee collections that were designated as temporarily unavailable. As a result, the $528.7 million in temporarily unavailable fee collections at the end of FY 2007 increased to $581.2 million at the end of FY 2010.

Temporarily Unavailable Fee Collections
(Dollars in Millions)
  FY 2006 FY 2007 FY 2008 FY 2009 FY 2010
Fiscal year fee collections $1,657.6 $1,783.2 $1,879.3 $1,874.2 $2,068.5
Fiscal year collections appropriated (1,657.6) (1,771.0) (1,879.3) (1,874.2) (2,016.0)
Fiscal year unavailable collections $— $12.2 $— $— $52.5
Prior year collections unavailable 516.5 516.5 528.7 528.7 528.7
Cumulative temporarily unavailable fee collections $516.5 $528.7 $528.7 $528.7 $581.2

The above chart illustrates amounts that Congress has appropriated to the USPTO over the past five fiscal years, as well as the cumulative temporarily unavailable fee collections.

These cumulative temporarily unavailable fee collections remain in the USPTO’s general fund account at the U.S. Department of the Treasury (Treasury) until appropriated for use by Congress. In addition to these annual restrictions, collections of $233.5 million are unavailable in accordance with the OBRA of 1990, and deposited in a special fund receipt account at the Treasury.

United States Patent and Trademark Office
Last Modified: 01/14/2011 10:58:20