We’re now approaching the end of FY2017 (Sept 30, 2017), and the USPTO is very likely to end up spending well more than it collects in fees. The chart below is just through June 30 (Q3), but look fairly harsh with a several hundred million dollar gap between income and spending. PTO Finance Chief Tony Scardino suggest that the gap will be almost – but not quite – be eliminated by the end of the Fiscal Year. However, its not clear to me how that might happen without dramatic changes.
5 thoughts on “USPTO Fee Collections – Well Under Spending”
They’re going to be fining lots of examiners for timesheet fraud cause of the whole flexitime thing. Theres lots of “investigations” going on. Never mind the fact that they got the work out of them anyway thanks to the count system. It could help the budget short term until someone decides to sue.3
Idea: do not refund any fees for dismissed IPRs.
I am not sure that the executive agency sua sponte acting in that manner would be considerd fair, given how it was Congress that set up the IPR system (and set up that system to be one that does not require standing).
Further, any such suggested change that makes “having money” a lever in the application of the law can be seen to be a benefit to the Efficient Infringer group.
In other words, it will be the small entity that bears more the brunt of your “do not refund” policy.
Upon these grounds then (and there are others – for example, this suggested source of funding is completely untethered to any efficient running of the Office and thus may be seen as an enabler of inefficiency), I cannot agree with your suggestion.2
The only thing that I thought worthwhile from the USPTO slideshow link was this tidbit:
Absent Congressional action, the USPTO’s fee setting
authority under section 10 of the AIA will expire on
September 16, 20181
I am perhaps the only one in the entire patent blogosphere that has attempted to draw attention to the dearth of oversight and control that accompanies the newfound grant of authority (through the AIA) that Congress provided to the Patent Office – in regards to the ability of the Office to have some fee setting power – based on an “in aggregate” balancing of their budget.
Given as the budget is fixed, spending over budget is not something that can be fixed with additional “adjustment” of fees, without going through Congress to reset that fixed budget. There is no “close the gap” avenue to be had there.
This article then only rings out further that the executive agency has NOT been using that power in accord with the limitations as set forth by Congress.
And worth noting (but conspicuously absent), the label for the vertical graph ordinate that is missing is millions of dollars – and that reflects now a multi Billion – yes “B” in billion – dollar input directly (and only) from innovators into the executive agency.
As my Uncle Ben was fond of saying, with great power comes great responsibility,
Perhaps the OMB needs to take a more hands on approach….
(ps, I think additional graphs may be helpful on this topic. For example, a graph showing how the actual spending year to date tracks with a projected total spend against budget. Or, conversely, how a pro-rata (either straight line or a modified curve fit to reflect the typical end of quarter spends) spend level of taking the approved budget and laying out that budget over time compare with the current level)
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