Report: Patent office should become federal corporation

The Patent and Trademark Office should become a government corporation headed by a CEO with strong business experience, according to a yet-to-be-released report from the National Academy of Public Administration.

In a report summary obtained by National Journal's Technology Daily, NAPA recommends incorporating PTO as the best way to improve its performance. The tech industry advocates PTO reforms designed to speed patent awards and improve the quality of submissions.

"As a self-sustaining federal entity that performs a direct service for fee-paying customers, [the patent office] needs to be able to function like a business and report to Congress and the administration with a bottom-line set of financial statements," the memorandum said.

The CEO position should take the place of a board of directors, NAPA said, and an "advisory board could provide stakeholder input" from people interested in patent policy.

A PTO spokesman had no comment on the recommendation but said an official response will be included in the final report when it is released in the near future.

Incorporating the agency is not a new idea. Rep. Howard Coble, R-N.C., unsuccessfully introduced legislation in 1997 to do just that. The measure was defeated by small inventors when it was attached to a larger bill they did not support.

The American Intellectual Property Law Association (AIPLA) supports incorporating PTO. "We believe that allowing the PTO to function as a government corporation would greatly enhance the ability of the office to retain fee revenues to process their work," AIPLA Director Mike Kirk said.

Historically, PTO has had to remit to federal coffers all of the fees it collects from patent applications. Congress has redirected much of that money to other agencies even as the backlog in processing applications has grown.

The NAPA report endorses the end to such fee diversion. PTO "needs to continue to have access to the fees it collects without fiscal-year limitation so that it may achieve efficiencies with steady stream funding and improve its ability to hire and retain the ... workers critical to its mission," the memo said.

Turnover among patent examiners is high. Most leave the agency within three to five years. With such high attrition, seasoned examiners must be pulled off cases to train new workers, Kirk said.

A bill to let the agency keep its fees -- which amounted to about $800 million over the last 12 years -- was introduced earlier this year. But the future of the measure, H.R. 2791, is in doubt because appropriators are unwilling to forgo their revenue stream, industry officials said.

The NAPA report also recommends instituting a "post-grant review" system to allow objectors to new patents to state their cases outside the court system.

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 Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

    Download
  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

    Download
  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

    Download
  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

    Download
  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.

    Download

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