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​WASHINGTON, DC – The American Intellectual Property Law Association (AIPLA) opposes a proposed action by Congress to grant the USPTO fee-setting authority without also addressing the long-standing problem of “diverting” USPTO fees away from the Office.  The House of Representatives is scheduled to consider a bill (“Patent and Trademark Office Fee Modernization Act of 2010”) this week giving the USPTO Director the authority to increase fees.  However, the bill does not contain any mechanism to ensure that those fees remain at the Office.  AIPLA emphatically opposes this legislation.

“The time has come for Congress to once and for all provide the USPTO with the ability to more predictably and intelligently plan its fiscal operation by ending the possibility of fee diversion,” according to AIPLA President Alan J. Kasper. “This year’s funding represents an example of the problem: the House is considering legislation that would essentially raise the fees paid by users to the USPTO while significant monies will be diverted unless something is done.  Given the importance of our intellectual property system as a key economic driver that attracts and protects investment in new technology, our country’s innovators who pay the fees deserve no less. Furthermore, AIPLA supports a comprehensive approach to patent reform now working its way through the Congress, and not the piecemeal approach represented by this bill.”

Over the past several fiscal years, Congress and the Administration have permitted the Office to retain essentially all of its user fees, but there has been nothing to prevent a return to the practice of diverting fees in earlier years that crippled the Office. In fact, Director Kappos testified before the House Judiciary Committee on May 5th that current projections indicate that $146M to $232M in user fees will be diverted away from the Office in this current fiscal year if something is not done.  Without some long term mechanism to ensure that fees stay at the Office, the USPTO has no guarantee of full funding, and perhaps more importantly, no way to intelligently plan long term to meet the multitude of challenges facing the Office.
The American Intellectual Property Law Association (AIPLA)
The American Intellectual Property Law Association is a national bar association of more than 16,000 members engaged in private and corporate practice, in government service, and in academia. AIPLA represents a wide and diverse spectrum of individuals, companies, and institutions involved directly or indirectly in the practice of various fields of law affecting intellectual property. Our members represent both owners and users of intellectual property, and they have a keen interest in a strong and efficient intellectual property system.