Patent News

Apr. 21, 2015

Legal Newsline: Bill would allow U.S. PTO to keep, use all collected fees, by Jessica M. Karmasek

This article originally appeared in Legal Newsline on April 21, 2015.

WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) – Last week, a bipartisan group of U.S. House lawmakers introduced legislation that would allow the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to retain and use all of the user fees it collects.

The PTO is unique in that, compared to other federal agencies, it operates on fees collected by its users and not on taxpayer dollars.

For years, Congress has diverted about 10 percent of the fees the PTO collects to the U.S. general treasury.

Sponsors of the Innovation Protection Act argue the bill would benefit the patent system by eliminating the fear of diversion.

On Thursday, House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers, D-Mich.; Reps. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis.; Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y.; Trent Franks, R-Ariz.; Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif.; Doug Collins, R-Ga.; Ted Deutch, D-Fla.; Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif; and Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., introduced House Resolution 1832.

The legislation would create a revolving fund that will allow the PTO to retain all of the user-based fees paid by patent and trademark applicants and use the fees to support certain services.

Specifically, the Innovation Protection Act would establish in the general treasury a PTO Public Enterprise Fund to be used as a revolving fund by the office’s director without fiscal year limitation.

The legislation requires to be credited to or deposited in the new fund: (1) appropriations for defraying the costs of PTO activities; (2) fees collected under federal patent and trademark laws; and (3) any unobligated balances remaining in the Patent and Trademark Office Appropriation Account and in the Patent and Trademark Fee Reserve Fund.