You may agree or disagree with the title of this article but here are the facts. Many people do not realize these facts about The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Here they are and then we will discuss what is happening.
- the USPTO generates revenue from filing and other fees (most federal agencies do not generate revenue)
- the USPTO is profitable, it generates more revenue than it spends each year (no other agency is profitable, to my knowledge)
- the Federal government will not let the USPTO use all the fees it receives, the Federal government takes money away from the USPTO and gives it to other agencies
- the USPTO has a backlog of patent applications, over 700,000 are waiting in line to be reviewed
Those are the facts. It may be a surprise to you that the USPTO, a government agency, is actually profitable. This is something the government likes to keep quiet because they like to take the money from that agency and spend it elsewhere. Since that is done every year we are essentially taxing inventors as their patent fees are used in other areas of the government. As if you are not taxed enough, just know that as an inventor you are proportionally taxed more. I am not sure how that assists in innovation as it does not seem as though a tax on inventors would be an incentive. Good news is that inventors do not see it that way and consider it a cost of doing business.
The real issue is that it currently takes about 3 years for your patent application to be decided on. There is an entire process for patent examination but I will not go into that now. The point is that if we want these patents to be examined faster do not take away the money of the agency. What is interesting is that in most cases when arguing for an agency to retain their current budget level or receive more funds you are typically asking for them to get more money and either the U.S. goes into deeper debt, another agency has to take a cut, or taxes go up. None of those is the case here. This agency generates revenue and is not allowed to retain the revenue it generates. Let them keep the money, examine patents faster, and therefore we speed our innovation to market, generate more jobs and increase the overall wealth of the country. If the U.S. really cares about innovation then get your hands out of the Patent Office’s pocket.