Constitutionality of PTO Fee Diversion

Figueroa v. United States.

Figueroa is a class action suit filed on behalf of inventors in the Court of Federal Claims. The cases challenges the constitutionality of congressional diversion of USPTO fee revenue to other non-IP government programs.

The suit alleges three grounds of unconstitutionality: 1) an unconstitutional violation of the Patent Clause that directs congress “to promote the progress of science and the useful arts;” (2) an unconstitutional direct tax on private property, and (3) an unconstitutional taking of private property. However, the Court has trimmed the suit to solely examine whether the Patent Clause restricts the fee diversion.

Recently, the AIPLA filed an Amicus brief in the case.

While taking no position on the request for relief, AIPLA pointed out that fee diversion increases the burdens on examiners and decreases patent quality, thereby adversely impacting the Office’s ability to carry out the Constitutional command of promoting the progress of the useful arts.

Heath Hoglund, a patent attorney in Puerto Rico appears to be heading the charge for the class.