Statement: House Deal on America Invents Act Does Not End Fee Diversion, and We Will Oppose H.R. 1249 As A Result
Innovation Alliance Executive Director Brian Pomper released the following statement today on H.R. 1249, the America Invents Act:
“The Innovation Alliance has consistently said that it would oppose any patent bill that does not end permanently the diversion of user fees from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”). Unfortunately, we have come to that point.
“The compromise language released yesterday does not end fee diversion permanently and enable USPTO to plan predictably and on a sustainable basis. In fact, it requires the USPTO to continue to rely upon the appropriators to have access to and use of all the application and other user fees it earns. Any future appropriations bill could easily divert USPTO funds to other uses. As a result, it will be difficult if not impossible for USPTO to make multi-year plans, to hire and retain personnel, and to improve operations and information technology, all of which are critical to decrease the substantial backlog of pending patent applications. Delayed patent issuance is tantamount to foregone innovation and unrealized American jobs.
“We are all currently focused on the USPTO and the patent system as a driver of American innovation, jobs, and competitiveness. While appropriators have promised not to divert the fees USPTO collects, current and future budget pressures will only increase, and future appropriators may not feel as constrained from diverting USPTO fees to other uses. This language does nothing to prevent that from happening. The tax on innovation remains intact.
“This substitute language is particularly inadequate given the new resource-intensive responsibilities the America Invents Act assigns to the USPTO, especially the creation of a complex, new quasi-judicial post-grant review system. Without a permanent end to fee diversion and USPTO’s guaranteed access to collected fees – such as was contained in the Senate-passed bill and Section 22 of the bill as approved by the House Judiciary Committee – the America Invents Act is an unfunded mandate on an important agency that is already overburdened and under-resourced.
“Given this disappointing turn of events, the Innovation Alliance has no choice but to vigorously oppose the version of the America Invents Act scheduled to be considered by the full House of Representatives tomorrow. We will continue to work with lawmakers and stakeholders to ensure that any patent bill that does become law ends fee diversion permanently.”