Will PTO Budget be Sacrificed Along with the Rest?

WaPo is boasting the following headline: Trump budget expected to seek historic contraction of federal workforce.

As a fee-funded agency, you might think the PTO is insulated and will be able to spend whatever it brings-in, but the real answer is “maybe” … “depending upon the politics.”  Although the AIA includes statutory protections, the all-republican majority allows for rapid changes as part of the budgeting process.  Some members of Congress, especially Reps. Issa and Goodlatte, are likely to provide some cover, but could not be called loyalists.


35 thoughts on “Will PTO Budget be Sacrificed Along with the Rest?

  1. 3

    Contraction of the Federal workforce is a long-standing policy in Trump’s circle. Implementation of that policy often runs into the problem of providing services that people expect: While people complain about taxes and government, they often complain loudest when the government fails to do what they think is its job. e.g. the response to Hurricane Katrina really hurt Bush 43 and the GOP.

    Any long term reduction in Fed workforce requires a re-calibration of activities of the government, and the expectation of the people getting the services. That takes a lot of time. In the interim its only a matter of time before there is some disaster that the Democrats can pin on cuts in an agency or other administration action.

    Write to your Congressional Rep and Senators!

    1. 3.1

      What should we say?

      While I realize that regulations can potentially be problematic, they can also be good. The clean water act, for instance.

      I personally also believe everyone should have some minimum level of health insurance, and would happily have my taxes increased to make it so. And I’m not a Democrat.

      1. 3.1.1

        I personally also believe everyone should have some minimum level of health insurance, and would happily have my taxes increased to make it so. And I’m not a Democrat.

        What are you?


              “Not a democrat” leaves a rather large and not singular designation.

              If YOU understood US politics, you would have not posted your comment.


          Maybe an economically uninformed (but clearly compassionate) person that doesn’t let himself be defined in a binary manner.

      2. 3.1.2

        Tell him/her why you think the PTO is important, and what defunding means for you and your clients. Reforming is one thing, blind cutting is another.

    2. 3.2

      1. Name another Agency that has almost as many resources invalidating it’s work product than producing it’s work product correctly in the first instance? (what’s the published number 80% ? Rendered invalid or no one infringes worthless kill ratio?).

      2. Name another Agency as openly hostile to the Art III department? Law like Markman? Rule of the case? Comity? Not for PTO, because they are ‘experts.’ And the CAFC, has Justice Story spinning in his grave.

      3. Name another Agency advocating our private property and liberty rights away (can you say patents are a ‘public right’ not a private right) in direct contravention to the 7th Amendment? Maybe PTO should should expend some resources at the library of congress and do some scholarship – since they are such ‘experts.’ So sad our experts don’t even know or embrace it’s own historical role and jurisprudence.

      4. Name another Agency whose work product is causing such misallocation of resources (sorry you thought your patented invention was worth bringing to market, because, after the fact, in the IPR, we made a mistake, void ab initio). Oh, wait we had such an Agency attempt, the FCC in the spectrum auction (a public right if there ever was one), but even they got slapped down on the ‘do over’ argument. That’s Nextwave v FCC.

      5. Name another Agency that has fused a policy court with a merits court? It’s one whistle blower away from exploding in scandal. In fact, name another Agency with so much discretion to reward and punish it’s friends and foes.

      Meh, I could go on, but the AIA has been one costly mistake and is a ticking time bomb of scandal just waiting for the new administration (not to worry, to be sure, it will be blamed on the budget cuts).

      1. 3.2.2

        Those are good questions. The solution (IMO) is to make an intentional change in policy and management. Its better to have direction from the administration, and possibly action by Congress, etc. All branches of the government are held by the GOP, so there is no excuse for not acting.

        Why? With a public change in policy, the administration has to own the various trade offs, and we get to see the trade offs. Likewise, if we think that there is waste at the PTO, propose management reform.

        Simply cutting the budget is a cowardly way to reform things: you take credit for saving money and anything that goes right but pass blame them when things go wrong. This usually paralyses decision making, trashes morale, and leads to worse outcomes that are more expensive to fix.

        If you simply cut the budget, without telling the PTO where to cut, the Director has no mandate for making hard decisions. For example, you think that the PTAB should not function in the same way. If you were suddenly Director, how would you do that? You have to deal with notice and comment rule making and existing interest at the PTO and outside it. If you think that labor reforms are important, you don’t have to deal with notice and comment rule making, but you have the union and employees in general.

  2. 1

    Word on the street is there isn’t going to be much hiring going on for quite awhile. But also no more than usual firing.


          Yeah it would be a tragedy to cut PTO funding since they’re doing so danged good at current levels.


            In the event of a pay cut, the people who would stay would be the best of the best! I guarantee it!


              An interesting phenomenon – examiners that do the worst also cost the most. Meaning, the newest examiners, and long time primaries, who many believe are the problem, are higher on the step within their grade, which determines how much they cost. A new primary is only a step 1, so he costs the least per action, and generally new primaries are at their peak quality-wise.


                Not sure I’d agree about the “newest.” The job market in science and engineering, with exception of computer science/programming is kind of meh.

                As a result, probably higher caliber people have applied since the recession.

                1. “The job market in science and engineering, with exception of computer science/programming is kind of meh.”

                  Because of H1B.

                2. Um the whole point of the program is to make the job market in science and engineering more meh by helping employers find employees they supposedly cannot find (you know, without paying vastly increased wages or training them themselves) by drawing from a “talent pool” spanning the entire world. In some ways that’s good. But it definitely makes the meh-ness of the job market go up.

                  But just as a for instance here’s one of many thousands:

                  “The industry is looking to triple or quadruple the number of guest worker visas available, using the proposed “I-Squared Act” as the model, and without any regard to the reality that unemployment for college-educated STEM workers is still double what it was before the recession. While (if enacted) the I-Squared Act would vastly expand the H-1B program, it does nothing to remedy the loopholes in the program that permit employers to hire a guest worker without first having to recruit qualified and available U.S. workers, and allow the majority of H-1B workers to be vastly underpaid relative to U.S. workers in the same occupation and local area.”

                  link to epi.org

                  Though surely it isn’t the only reason. Many other reasons exist, including regulations, super high tax rate if you can’t get tax cuts for your business etc. etc.

                3. So “tech workers” have discovered what every other worker in the U.S. over the past 20-30 years has already found out – that the world is chock full of people in other countries who are willing to do the same work as they do for a lot less money.

                  I hardly think the H1B program is the reason for the “meh” job market. For tech workers, STEM grads, or anybody else.


            More $ does not guarantee improved quality of outcome unless there is improved management of the $. But a cut in $ almost always hurts quality.

            Better to do the hard work of deciding on a policy, and then trim unneeded functions, to save money. Its like losing weight: you generally don’t just cut off your leg, but changing your diet, exercising more, etc.

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