Reducing patent backlog could take years, agency official says

Reducing a backlog of hundreds of thousands of pending patent applications could take several years, despite a budget boost that has enabled the Patent and Trademark Office to hire a record number of examiners this year, PTO director Jon Dudas said Monday.

"The current backlog is about 490,000 applications -- the highest ever," Dudas said during a Senate Judiciary Intellectual Property Subcommittee hearing on overhauling the patent system.

Dudas said PTO has received a record number of patent applications every year for the past 20 years, but did not begin hiring in record numbers until this year.

PTO received $1.6 billion in FY05, $342 million more than it received in FY04. Dudas said PTO is using much of that increase to hire 860 new examiners this year, for a total of about 4,400.

"Three years down the line, four years down the line, the hiring we're doing will have an effect," Dudas said, noting that it takes an average of 28 months for PTO to decide whether to grant a patent. He said for more complex subjects, such as data-processing technologies, the average patent pendency is about three years.

"Without fundamental changes in the way [PTO] operates, the average pendency in these areas could double by 2008," Dudas said.

Judiciary ranking member Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., noted that PTO receives more than 350,000 patent applications annually and approved 187,000 applications in 2004.

"That is more than 500 approved patents every single day, and I think that could be a matter for concern," Leahy said. "When non-innovative inventions are patented, some patent-holders fear they will spend more time litigating than they do innovating."

Leahy said lawmakers should consider modifying the process to allow for patent challenges "before costly, highly technical litigation is required." Judiciary Intellectual Property Subcommittee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said there is a "high degree of agreement" among stakeholders on the need for a post-grant review process.

But Hatch noted that "significant differences remain" on other issues, including whether to change the rules by which patent holders can obtain injunctive relief against patent infringers.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

    Download
  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

    Download
  • Federal IT Applications: Assessing Government's Core Drivers

    In order to better understand the current state of external and internal-facing agency workplace applications, Government Business Council (GBC) and Riverbed undertook an in-depth research study of federal employees. Overall, survey findings indicate that federal IT applications still face a gamut of challenges with regard to quality, reliability, and performance management.

    Download
  • PIV- I And Multifactor Authentication: The Best Defense for Federal Government Contractors

    This white paper explores NIST SP 800-171 and why compliance is critical to federal government contractors, especially those that work with the Department of Defense, as well as how leveraging PIV-I credentialing with multifactor authentication can be used as a defense against cyberattacks

    Download
  • Toward A More Innovative Government

    This research study aims to understand how state and local leaders regard their agency’s innovation efforts and what they are doing to overcome the challenges they face in successfully implementing these efforts.

    Download
  • From Volume to Value: UK’s NHS Digital Provides U.S. Healthcare Agencies A Roadmap For Value-Based Payment Models

    The U.S. healthcare industry is rapidly moving away from traditional fee-for-service models and towards value-based purchasing that reimburses physicians for quality of care in place of frequency of care.

    Download
  • GBC Flash Poll: Is Your Agency Safe?

    Federal leaders weigh in on the state of information security

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.