Joff Wild

David Kappos, Director of the USPTO, has issued a brief statement on the current state of play with regard to the patent reform legislation to be voted on by the House of Reprsentatives this week. This follows a decision to drop provisions from the proposed act to ensure a permanent end to fee diversion. In a message sent to delegates attending the IP Business Congress, Kappos states:

We’re making progress, we know that USPTO funding is a core concern but the legislation represents years of negotiation and compromise. We recognize that the House Manager’s Amendment does not solve the diversion issue but the IP community needs to continue working on that with the appropriators. Of course, industry is on record as supporting full funding of the USPTO, but this is important job creation legislation and we need to see the bigger picture. 

The statement comes after the Innovation Alliance, one of the lobbying bodies that had been advocating change, withdrew its support for the legislation over fee diversion. Explaining the move, the alliance's executive director Brian Pomper said:

The Innovation Alliance has consistently said that it would oppose any patent bill that does not end permanently the diversion of user fees from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”). Unfortunately, we have come to that point.

The compromise language released yesterday does not end fee diversion permanently and enable USPTO to plan predictably and on a sustainable basis. In fact, it requires the USPTO to continue to rely upon the appropriators to have access to and use of all the application and other user fees it earns. Any future appropriations bill could easily divert USPTO funds to other uses. As a result, it will be difficult if not impossible for USPTO to make multi-year plans, to hire and retain personnel, and to improve operations and information technology, all of which are critical to decrease the substantial backlog of pending patent applications. Delayed patent issuance is tantamount to foregone innovation and unrealized American jobs.