Overtime ban at the USPTO; more problems with patent reform legislation in Senate 20 Jun 09
The USPTO has imposed a paid overtime ban in all patent business units, according to a memo written by Bruce Kisliuk, the acting deputy commisioner for patent operations, which was leaked to The Legal Times. The ban comes into force tomorrow, 21st June. The memo was sent out to staff last Wednesday, before the news broke that David Kappos is to be nominated as the office's next Director. It underlines the challenge he will face when he takes up the post. Acting Director John Doll has already taken measures to deal with the shortfall in revenues stemming from a drop in applications to the USPTO. The latest figures suggest that numbers are down 7% so far this year, equating to a drop of $140 million in income. If the decline in applications does not prove to be temporary and is accompanied by a fall in renewal fees, Kappos is going to have some serious thinking to do about how to tackle the USPTO backlog with fewer resources.
Over in Congress, meanwhile, I understand that the post grant opposition provisions in the Patent Reform Act have emerged as the latest roadblock to the proposed legislation's path to the statute books. Jeff Sessions was chosen to replace Arlen Specter as the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee earlier this year after Specter crossed the Senate floor to become a Democrat. Sessions is not happy with the post grant review aspects of the Act as they now stand. Last week there was a meeting between his team and members of Patrick Leahy's staff (Leahy, a Democrat, is the chairman of the Committee) to see if some compromise could be found. Things did not go well and no progress was made. There is talk now that this could see the Act put out to the long grass as the committee gets on with other things - not the least of which will be scrutinising President Obama's Supreme Court pick Sonia Sotomayor. David Kappos will also have to pass muster with the committee before he can begin work at the USPTO.
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