* US PTO would get budget increase, keep fees it collects
* Interim 15 pct surcharge proposed, pending new fees
WASHINGTON Feb 1 The U.S. Patent and Trademark
Office, which has a large backlog of patent applications and an
antiquated computer system, got a big budget bump in the
president's budget proposal released on Monday.
The PTO, which charges fees but does not always get to keep
all of the money, was given a budget of $2.322 billion for the
2011 fiscal year beginning Oct. 1, up 23 percent from 2010's
"The President's Budget gives the U.S. Patent and Trademark
Office (USPTO) full access to its fee collections and will
strengthen USPTO's efforts to improve the speed and quality of
patent examinations through a fee surcharge," the White House
said in budget documents.
"The budget includes a proposal to increase statutory
patent fees by 15 percent, which is expected to yield over $200
million in additional collections in 2011. The increase is
intended to be an interim measure," budget documents said.
President Barack Obama's proposed budget said the PTO would
develop a new fee schedule that better aligns fees to the cost
of providing services.
In the past two fiscal years, the patent office earned more
in fees than it was allowed to keep despite a problems like
taking an average of 34.6 months to approve or reject a patent
Meanwhile examiners have been leaving faster than they can
be replaced and the examiner corps is hampered by a computer
system that the new PTO head Director David Kappos has
described as "antiquated." [ID:nN26116520]
Kappos has predicted it would take several years and
"multiple hundreds of millions of dollars" to upgrade the PTO's
In 2009, the patent office used $1.9 billion in funding and
gave back $2 million additional that it earned in fees. For the
2010 fiscal year, it is estimated that the PTO will have access
to slightly less but earn an additional $116 million in fees.
In other years, Congress had set the patent office budget
at the same amount as the agency's expected intake plus a
cushion of $100 million. But Congress cut the cushion for
fiscal 2010, that ends on Sept. 30.
(Reporting by Diane Bartz; Editing by Tim Dobbyn)