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Patent Groups Cry Foul Over Latest Continuing Resolution Patent Groups Cry Foul Over Latest Continuing Resolution

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Congress

Patent Groups Cry Foul Over Latest Continuing Resolution

September 21, 2011

A range of companies say the latest continuing resolution proposed in Congress lacks promised language designed to prevent appropriators from raiding fees paid to the Patent and Trademark Office.

ISeveral groups that advocate on a behalf of both large and small companies complained that the CR undermines the gentleman's agreement that allowed the landmark patent reform bill to be passed earlier this month.

In a compromise with House appropriators, the sponsors of the America Invents Act agreed to strip out language that prohibited Congress from allocating patent fees to different programs.

"Unfortunately, now, just days after the enactment of the act, we are deeply concerned to learn that the CR does not contain the promised language," the Innovation Alliance, which represents a range of smaller tech companies, wrote in a letter to leaders in the Senate and the House. "We strongly believe that for the reforms to work as intended, the promised language ending fee diversion must be included in all bills making appropriations for the USPTO."

In a letter of its own, the Coalition for 21st Century Patent Reform, which includes companies like Johnson & Johnson and General Electric, pointed out that even if Congress doesn't actually take patent fees for other purposes, without the language, the PTO cannot access new fees.

"Unless an anomaly is included in the CR, the USPTO will lose $50 million each month the CR is in effect," the letter said. "The problem is that during the 7 weeks of the CR, the USPTO is held to a spending rate based on last year's appropriations - this rate ignores the fact that the USPTO will be collecting significantly more fees to support implementation of the act."

The America Invents Act was signed by President Obama on Friday and is the most significant reform of the U.S. patent system in about 60 years.

The Intellectual Property Owners Association also sent a letter urging lawmakers to include the language in the latest CR.

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