Inventors: No Corporate PTO

A group of small inventors today last week announced their support for an alternative patent bill sponsored by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R- Calif., warning that legislation reported by the House Judiciary Committee and due on the House floor this week will "corporatize" the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and will increase litigation by allowing competitors to participate in re-examinations of patents after they have been granted.

That measure, sponsored by House Judiciary Courts and Intellectual Property Subcommittee Chairman Howard Coble, R-N.C., would make the PTO a government corporation, similar to the U.S. Postal Service. The inventors also argued the Coble bill does nothing to control PTO overhead costs and likely will increase such costs by allowing it to open satellite offices around the world.

Rohrabacher will introduce a substitute bill on the House floor next week that will combine his bill, which restores the 17-year patent term, and legislation sponsored by Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., according to a Rohrabacher aide. The Hunter legislation specifies that PTO user fees can be spent only on examiner salaries and training. The inventors said millions of dollars in application fees are unfairly diverted to other government programs.

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