Letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee on Funding of the PTO
September 15, 2004
Honorable Robert F. Bennett
Senate Appropriations Committee
United States Senate
SD-431 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510-4403
Dear Senator Bennett:
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the world's largest business federation, representing more than three million businesses of every size, sector, and region strongly supports providing the United States Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) with the ability to fully fund its strategic plan for increasing efficiency and reducing a backlog of hundreds of thousands of pending patent applications. As you consider the Fiscal Year (FY) 2005 Commerce, Justice, State, and Judiciary Appropriations bill, we urge you to support a likely provision in the legislation that would increase PTO user fees for one year and prohibit any of those fees from being earmarked for other programs.
Patents and trademarks serve a critical role in the promotion and development of the American economy. If proposed reforms are not implemented at PTO, the quality of patents will continue to deteriorate, causing expensive and unnecessary litigation. Further, the time it takes to issue a patent or trademark will climb, thereby increasing uncertainty about bringing new products to the market.
Of specific interest to the business community is the issue of funding for PTO. During the past 12 years, more than $650 million has been diverted from PTO to other government programs, creating a significant strain on the efficiency and capabilities of the agency. The private sector has long signaled its willingness to bear the financial burden of reforming PTO, but only if these additional revenues are made available for PTO reforms. An increase in fees without the full implementation of reforms would severely undermine the innovation and efficiency of American industry.
A stand-alone bill, H.R. 1561, passed the House of Representatives on March 3, 2004, by a vote of 379-28. Similar to the proposed provision, the House-passed bill increases PTO fees and ensures that those funds remain with the PTO. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved the House-passed bill without objection in April, but the legislation has since stalled. The Chamber urges you to adopt a likely provision containing similar language as part of the FY 2005 Commerce, Justice, State, and Judiciary Appropriations bill.
R. Bruce Josten
Executive Vice President, Government Affairs
U.S. Chamber of Commerce