By Sarah Fendrick --
On March 25, 2010, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Director David Kappos appeared before the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Sciences, and Related Agencies for the Committee on Appropriations to seek funds for FY 2011 to enable USPTO operations and to fund a variety of Office initiatives and programs.
The current budget proposed by the President requests $2.322 billion for the USPTO and projects USPTO fee collections will generate $2.098 billion in FY 2011. According Director Kappos (at left), the deficit of $224 million would be covered by an interim patent fee increase. Further proposals included in the budget include implementing legislation to better align the cost of operating the UPSTO with the actual cost of its services and emphasizing effective business tools. As set out in the Director's statement, the President's budget seeks to support a five-year plan designed to:
1. Reduce the time to first Office action on the merits to 10 months;
2. Reduce total average pendency for patent applications to 20 months;
3. Reach a target patent inventory backlog level of 10 months; and
4. Invest in IT infrastructure and tools to achieve a 21st Century system that permits end-to-end electronic processing in patent and trademark IT systems.
In line with the President's budget, the USPTO has set out of the following goals to facilitate end-to-end processing within 12 months:
1. Initiate targeted hiring to recruit and hire 1,000 patent examiners (projected to be a net increase of 400 to 500) annually during FY 2011 and FY 2012; and
2. Achieve efficiency improvements brought about by re-engineering many USPTO management and operational systems.
To support the allotment of funds to the USPTO, the Director presented a number of current USPTO initiatives that were implemented to facilitate more effective processing of patent applications.