Trump urged to exempt USPTO from hiring freeze

The Alliance of US Startups & Inventors for Jobs (USIJ) joined a group of organizations in writing to President Donald Trump to express their concerns about the possible effects of his Federal Government hiring freeze on the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

“Taxpayers currently do not pay anything to cover the cost of the USPTO; the Office operates entirely on fees from patent and trademark applications,” said the letter.

“The federal government does not always permit the USPTO to keep all of the fees it collects.

“From 2010-2014, $409.8 million in user fees were diverted from the USPTO to general government spending, contributing to the 540,000 patent backlog at USPTO.”

The letter argued that if the hiring freeze were to apply to the USPTO “America’s inventors would essentially be paying a tax that doesn’t contribute to the operations of the USPTO but is diverted to general government spending.”

The letter continued: “Taxing inventors in this way thwarts innovation and harms the economy.

“Moreover, restricting the USPTO’s ability to use its user fee collections for the benefit of patent and trademark applicants, including hiring new examiners, will stymie efforts to improve the total patent pendency rate which is currently 25.6 months, down from 27.4 months just two years ago.

“Increasing the patent pendency rate by reducing the number of patent examiners will be a boon to our foreign competitors, slowing the creation of American jobs and advantaging China, which is granting patents faster than the US.

“The United States should have the best patent system in the world, and not allowing the USPTO to hire needed examiners will cause the US to fall farther behind.

“According to the Global Intellectual Property Center at the US Chamber of Commerce, the US patent system has dropped from #1 in 2016 to #10 in 2017 in the ranking of patent system strength.

“We cannot afford to fall farther behind our foreign competitors by obstructing access to the patent system.

“We appreciate the steps that your administration has taken to put America first, and we hope that you will keep this purpose in mind in exempting the USPTO from the hiring freeze and asking Congress to permanently end the practice of USPTO fee diversion.”

The letter is signed by:

Alliance of US Startups & Inventors for Jobs (USIJ)

Bernard Shay, Entrepreneur and Patent Attorney

Bi-Level Technologies

Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO)

Earlens Corporation

ExploraMed Development, LLC

IEEE-USA

InterDigital Inc.

Kenneth Stanwood, CTO, Wi-LAN Inc.

Licensing Executives Society (USA and Canada), Inc.

Medical Device Manufacturers Association (MDMA)

Miramar Labs, Inc.

National Venture Capital Association (NVCA)

NeoTract, Inc.

Nuelle, Inc.

Peter A. Socarras, Senior Director, Intellectual Property, Nevro Corp.

Qool Therapeutics, Inc.

Small Business Technology Council

Susan Schmitt, Esquire

The Innovation Alliance