Congress moves to divert agency fees, but not Patent Office fees

In early February 2017, Congressman Gary Palmer (R-AL) and Senator Mike Lee (R-UT)(shown left) introduced the Agency Accountability Act of 2017 (AAA) in both the House of Representatives (HR 850) and the Senate (S. 299), respectively. The AAA is a bill that would direct most fines, fees, and other unappropriated proceeds to the Treasury, making them subject to the appropriations process.

Senator Lee and Congressman Palmer explained that the Agency Accountability Act is designed to reestablish Congressional authority over agencies. Palmer and Lee believe that at least some agencies have been spending money on programs that Congress has not approved.


Micro Entities do Well in Proposed Patent Fees

Money in HandsAt the end of May 2012, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) announced a proposed rule change with the publication of a Federal Register notice titled Changes to Implement Micro Entity Status for Paying Patent Fees. The Office seeks written comments no later than July 30, 2012.  On September 6, 2012, the USPTO published proposed patent fees in the Federal Register, seeking to set fees for the first time under the authority derived from the America Invents Act.

These fees include micro-entity fees that are steeply discounted over the full fee.  Indeed, the proposed patent fees made public for comment on September 6, 2012, significantly raise virtually all fees on small entities and large entities.  Only micro-entities see a discount compared to the patent fees charged today.  Because all fees across the board have gone up the micro-entity discount, while certainly significant, will not be quite what some were hoping for when dreaming of $.25-on-the-dollar fees based on what the fees are presently.


Robert Hulse Discusses USPTO’s Patent Processing Initiative

I’m sure many of you are still trying to weed through the detailed call for comments on the USPTO’s Three-Track Patent Processing Initiative that was published in the Federal Register last week.  It will be interesting to see the comments that come in from the Patent Community and how the PTO’s proposal will evolve based on the comments.  I had an opportunity to ask Robert Hulse, partner at Fenwick & West, LLP and Contributor on the Patent Center, some general questions that I had regarding the PTO’s initiative:

Are you in favor of or opposed to Three-Track proposal?  Do you believe it’s an improvement from the one-size-fits-all patent system?

Generally, I think this proposal will be good for patent applicants, but I would caution that it is just a general proposal with no specific rules.  Once the PTO published the proposed rules for implementing the Three-Track system, we will have a better understanding of how beneficial the system will be for applicants and how likely this system is to achieve the PTO’s stated goals of reducing pendency while maintaining quality examination. 

 For example, the rules may impose a high fee or otherwise place onerous requirements on applicants to take advantage of the prioritized track, Track 1.  In this case, most applicants simply wouldn’t take advantage of Track 1, which would reduce the effectiveness of the program.  This is the case with the current accelerated examination procedure, which requires a supporting document (the Accelerated Examination Support Document, or AESD) that places a tremendous burden on the applicant. (more…)