Patent and Trademark Office budget amendment approved

The Senate unanimously approved last week an amendment to the fiscal 2009 budget resolution condemning the diversion of funds from the Patent and Trademark Office.

When PTO funds are diverted for other purposes, the office's examiners cannot approve patents as quickly and that hinders the economic benefits these innovations could potentially bring, according to Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, who sponsored the language.

"Considering the value of our nation's intellectual property and its contribution to building a strong and vibrant economy, it is incomprehensible to siphon these funds away from their intended use, especially during these trying economic times," said Hatch, a cosponsor of a pending bill that would overhaul the U.S. patent system.

The Senate plans to debate and vote on that legislation when it returns from the two-week spring recess.

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