As explained last week, a vocal contingent of House members appear unsatisfied with the recent momentum of the manager’s amendment to S.515. So, in the truest tradition of U.S. politics, they have set out to undermine the entire process by introducing a new draft measure. The draft is much narrower and provides only for the ability of the USPTO to set their own fees, fee diversion is not addressed.
The draft measure, is introduced by House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.), and is purportedly to aid the patent office to boost its revenue to cope with a large backlog of patent applications and an outdated computer system. Of course, without a corresponding provision to stop fee diversion this measure does nothing for the USPTO.
Fortunately, in response to criticism of various bar organizations and stake holders, this measure has been withdrawn from today’s vote. Expect to see a slightly more comprehensive measure in the near term, addressing at least fee diversion practices. The Patent Reform saga continues….
UPDATE: Well, that didn’t take long, may I present the Patent and Trademark Office Funding Stabilization Act.
Congressman Conyers notes that:
Specifically the bill gives the USPTO fee-setting authority, provides it the authority to impose a 15 percent temporary surcharge for all of the USPTO’s fees, and prevents fees collected from being diverted away from the agency for unrelated government programs. This bill responds to the present fiscal crisis at the USPTO by helping the agency hire additional examiners, help reduce the backlog of patent applications, and improve patent quality.
The bill we introduce today is not intended to impact the negotiations over the larger patent bill pending in the Senate.
Only a true politician could keep a straight face on that last part.