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WASHINGTON, DC – In a letter sent to Congress earlier this week by three intellectual property organizations, American Intellectual Property Law Association President Alan Kasper expressed disappointment that the United States Patent and Trademark Office has been denied an estimated $70 million of the user fees that it collected in the 2010 fiscal year, which ended yesterday.  The $70 million shortfall occurred despite repeated calls by the Administration for additional funding.

The letter, which was also signed by Marylee Jenkins of the ABA Section of Intellectual Property Law and Douglas K. Norman of the Intellectual Property Owners Association, stated that, “the unavailability of funds paid as fees to the USPTO is the paramount issue to our members.” AIPLA continues to urge Congress to establish a mechanism to ensure that all of the user fees the USPTO collects remain at the Office, thus stabilizing and adding much-needed predictability to the United States’ intellectual property system.  Specifically, such sustainable funding would enable the Office to hire more patent examiners, improve the stressed IT system and make progress on the massive patent application backlog.

“The time has come for Congress to provide the USPTO with the ability to more predictably and intelligently plan its fiscal operation by once and for all ending the possibility of fee diversion,” according to Mr. Kasper. “This year’s funding represents an example of the problem. 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.”

Over the past several fiscal years, Congress and the Administration have permitted the Office to retain essentially all of its user fees. However in FY 2010, the Office collection of user fees exceeded the appropriations funding by an estimated $70 million, monies which were not made available to the Office.  AIPLA supports a long term mechanism to ensure that all fees stay at the USPTO,  allowing the Office to intelligently plan long term to meet the multitude of challenges facing the IP system.
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.