Sequestration cuts could delay opening of Denver U.S. Patent Office

Politics

Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet celebrates the USPTO’s decision last July to locate a new satellite patent office in Denver.

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

DENVER — Colorado U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, whose office led the push to locate a new satellite patent office downtown, is urging the Office of Management and Budget not to sequester fees that could delay its scheduled opening early next year.

In a letter to the agency’s director, Bennet notes that OMB’s recent decision to sequester fees from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) runs afoul of a 2011 law written to ensure the USPTO would have access to those funds.

The USPTO is funded entirely by the fees it collects, not tax dollars. The 2011 The Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (AIA) states that such fees may only be used for expenses of the USTPO.

In a letter to the Director of the OMB Sylvia Burwell, Bennet wrote, “As you know, the statute ensures that the excess fees that the USPTO collected were dedicated to the organization’s activities. This provision sought to ensure that the fees collected from inventors and patent owners by the USPTO are used to provide critical, time-sensitive services, and provide certainty outside of the partisan gridlock in Washington.”

Bennet also noted that the AIA also underscores that the fees that USPTO collects, and which fund its operations, are inherently different than regular government spending and that Congress has previously sought to exempt from sequestration “activities financed by voluntary payments to the Government for goods or services to be provided for such payments.”

Denver’s new satellite patent office will create an estimated 1,000 new jobs for the state — starting with about 200 patent examiners who would work at the office itself — and, according to a study by the University of Colorado Leeds School of Business, its economic impact measures around $400 million over the first five years.

In Bennet’s view, choking off its funding could exacerbate the current backlog of patent applications and delay the opening of new satellite offices like the one in downtown Denver, scheduled to open next Feburary.

“There’s broad agreement that the sequester is poor policy. It is damaging to our economy in Colorado and across the country and should be replaced,” Bennet said. “In the case of the Patent Office, however, the sequester does not apply. It is funded by the fees it collects and not tax dollars.”

Bennet sponsored the original legislation allowing the USPTO to address its backlog by establishing three new satellite patent offices across the country by 2014. He then worked with local stakeholders on a successful application to locate one of them in Denver.

“There’s broad agreement that the sequester is poor policy. It is damaging to our economy in Colorado and across the country and should be replaced,” Bennet said. “In the case of the Patent Office, however, the sequester does not apply. It is funded by the fees it collects and not tax dollars.”

Most Read

Top Stories

More Home Page Top Stories