The Federal Government enacted its fiscal year 2011 budget on April 15, 2011. This budget contains the USPTO’s appropriation through the end of the Federal fiscal year, which is September 30, 2011. With the enactment of this budget, the total spending authority for the USPTO has been limited to $2.09 billion, which is down approximately $100 million from the USPTO’s initial fiscal year 2011 budget.
This budget deficit is now causing the USPTO to make some significant reductions from its previously planned activities. Specifically, the USPTO is immediately enacting the following:
- Track One, which offers expedited patent examination and was scheduled to go into effect on May 4, 2011, is postponed
- The opening of the planned satellite office in Detroit, as well as consideration of other possible satellite office locations, is postponed
- Hiring for new positions and backfills is frozen
- IT projects will be scaled back
- Funding for Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) outsourcing will be substantially reduced
- Employee training will be reduced
- All overtime is suspended
Unfortunately, one result of these cuts is that pendency of applications before the USPTO will likely increase. Given that the USPTO is already short of qualified examiners, the prohibitions on hiring additional examiners and allowing current examiners to work overtime, will overburden the current examiners. It is likely that the examiners will fall further behind in their examination of pending applications.
The progress that the USPTO has made in reducing pendency of applications will be for naught and will likely revert back to the longer pendency times. It is, therefore, more important to promptly file your applications and to promptly respond to all office actions in an effort to help reduce the pendency of your applications.
The budget cuts, however, have not impacted the other expedited prosecution programs previously available from the USPTO. Specifically, the following expedited examination programs are still available:
- Accelerated Examination Program
- Petitions to make special procedures for age or health
- The Patent Prosecution Highway
For questions about how the USPTO budget cuts may impact you and your business, please contact:
Todd A. Benni
David B. Cupar
David T. Movius
or any of the intellectual property attorneys at McDonald Hopkins by clicking on the intellectual property link below:
It is critical in today's technology-driven, global marketplace to effectively procure and manage intellectual property. Our clients rely on us to provide prompt, thorough and efficient counsel on matters involving patents, copyrights, trademarks, trade dress, trade secrets, intellectual property procurement, and enforcement. We focus on management and enforcement for Fortune 500 companies, mid-cap companies and start-ups. Supported by the talents of our litigation and business law attorneys, our IP attorneys deliver a complete range of innovative and comprehensive solutions, as well as insightful industry expertise. Our in-depth approach enables us to meet the business goals of our diverse client base. In fact, the hallmark of our IP practice is to dovetail our clients’ intellectual property needs with their business plans and strategies, presenting a cohesive and thorough outcome.