Gary Locke (Secretary of Commerce) has again indicated the Obama Administration’s support for the pending patent reform bill S. 515. [Letter]. The letter also suggests that the PTO should be given authority to raise its fees, including “a limited interim fee adjustment.”
For many years, the PTO has been funded entirely by user fees. I hope that the same can continue to avoid such direct Congressional control over PTO spending. But the PTO clearly needs money, and the alternative of cutting PTO services is likewise highly unappealing. The third alternative: raise fees.
In the past, I have reported that patent applicant behavior is relatively inelastic to PTO fee changes. Although a 15% increase in fees would reduce the number of applications, the total revenue would increase.
If the PTO is going to increase fees – how should it structure that increase? Notably, should more the burden be placed on (1) standard application fees; (2) issue and maintentance fees; or (3) luxury fees for excess claiming (20+) extensions of time? All Universities qualify for the small-entity fee reduction. Does that still make sense?
Notes: The letter from Locke also promotes the idea of worksharing between patent offices when the same invention is being examined in multiple locations.