Trump’s proposed budget would give PTO $3.6 billion for FY 2018


Several weeks ago, President Donald J. Trump released his proposed FY 2018 budget under the title A New Foundation for American Greatness. A review of the budget and supporting Commerce Department Appendix suggests the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has received everything it requested, and will not suffer fee diversion during the next fiscal year if the President’s FY 2018 budget passes Congress.

The President’s Message on FY 2018 Budget

“This Budget’s defining ambition is to unleash the dreams of the American people,” President Trump wrote in the Budget Message of the President accompanying the release of the FY 2018 budget. “This requires laying a new foundation for American Greatness.”

“Through streamlined Government, we will drive an economic boom that raises incomes and expands job opportunities for all Americans,” President Trump stated. “Faster economic growth, coupled with fiscal restraint, will enable us to fully fund our national priorities, balance our budget, and start to pay down our national debt.”

While the President’s budget increases defense spending by $52 million in FY 2018, the budget includes a blueprint that will realize “$3.6 trillion in spending reductions over 10 years, the most ever proposed by any President in a Budget.”

Commerce Department Appendix

While the Commerce Department will see a nearly 16% budget reduction compared to FY 2017, it appears as if the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will receive everything they requested under the President’s FY 2018 budget. Although not apparent from the FY 2018 budget document itself, which does not use the word “patent” anywhere, the Commerce Department Appendix details the FY 2018 budget for the USPTO as proposed by President Trump (see pages 199-200).

Relative to the USPTO, the Commerce Department Appendix explains that under President Trump’s FY 2018 budget, the USPTO will receive $3,586,193,000 from fees collected and to be available until expended. This appropriation would result in $0 being provided to the USPTO from the general fund of the United States. Any fees collected by the USPTO in excess of that amount would be deposited into the Patent and Trademark Fee Reserve Fund and remain available until expended. There does not appear to be any mention of any fee diversion anywhere, which would mean the USPTO has dodged the fee diversion hands of an often greedy federal government which over the last 30 years has frequently diverted user fees to other purposes. See Fees Withheld from USPTO 1991-2014.

The Commerce Department Appendix to the President’s FY 2018 budget explains that the USPTO will specifically use the funding for examining patent applications and granting patents, as well as USPTO efforts to address abusive patent litigation practices. Some commentators have noticed that the language used in the 2018 USPTO budget request is identical to the last budget submitted under the Obama Administration, leaving some to wonder whether that means the Trump Administration will continue Obama-era policies at the USPTO.

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