Support full funding for the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
Summary of the Issue
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) grants patents for the protection of inventions. A patent is a right granted by the government that allows the holder, for a limited period of time, to exclude others from making, using, or selling the registered inventions. Patents enable the invention of new products, reward the discovery of new uses for already-existing processes or items, and generate jobs for millions of Americans. Thus, the PTO is critical to U.S. economic success because it protects new ideas and investments in innovation and creativity.
Of specific interest to the business community is the issue of funding for the PTO. During the past 12 years more than $650 million has been diverted from the PTO to other government programs, creating a significant strain on the efficiency and capabilities of the office. This diversion of funds has an adverse effect on the quality of patents, resulting in expensive litigation and uncertainty about who has proper legal rights to the new product or process. Moreover, unless changes are made at the PTO, processing time for a patent is expected to increase from 24.6 months in 2004 to 45 months by 2009. This would be devastating to the U.S. economy.
To address these concerns, the PTO proposed sweeping reforms in its 21st Century Strategic Plan. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce supports this proposal. If fully funded, the PTO predicts a processing time of just 27 months in 2009.
The private sector has long signaled its willingness to bear the financial burden of reforming the PTO, but only if these additional revenues are made available for PTO reforms. Thus, the U.S. Chamber supports legislation ending fee diversion, while increasing user rates to fund PTO reform.
U.S. Chamber Strategy
- Support full funding for the PTO.
- Lobby Congress for legislation that would end PTO fee diversion.
- Work with other coalitions, associations, and businesses to achieve PTO reform.
Staff Contact Information
Environment, Technology & Regulatory Affairs Division