Items of Interest and Importance

Capitol Hill publication Politico notes today that a letter urging President Trump to lift the hiring freeze at the USPTO argues persuasively that the agency is supported by its users. It also notes that Michelle Lee is likely to be replaced. Both items are important and need no further elaboration from us.

PATENT GROUPS URGE TRUMP TO LIFT HIRING FREEZE FOR USPTO – A group of patent organizations has written to President Donald Trump urging him to exempt the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office from the hiring freeze across the federal government. It would significantly hamper the agency, which is completely run by user fees, the groups say in the letter sent on Wednesday and exclusively shared with MT. – USPTO does not use taxpayer money, the letter notes, and the government does not always let the Patent Office keep all of its fees: “From 2010-2014, $409.8 million in user fees were diverted from the USPTO to general government spending, contributing to the 540,000-patent backlog at USPTO,” the letter notes, also urging Congress to end USPTO fee diversion.- They argue a hiring freeze would be advantageous to China: “Increasing the patent pendency rate by reducing the number of patent examiners will be a boon to our foreign competitors, slowing the creation of American jobs and advantaging China, which is granting patents faster than the U.S,” said the groups, which include the National Venture Capital Association, Innovation Alliance and Alliance of U.S. Startups and Inventors for Jobs. “The United States should have the best patent system in the world, and not allowing the USPTO to hire needed examiners will cause the U.S. to fall farther behind.” The groups note in the letter that a recent U.S. Chamber of Commerce ranking put the country at no. 10 in a list of top global patent systems.

More patent scuttlebutt: A former Obama administration official says that USPTO Director Michelle Lee could be eyeing broader purviews in the administration, with a potential interest in the Office of Science and Technology Policy director position or a federal judgeship. Recall that we previously reported that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is interviewing additional candidates – including Philip Johnson, a former Johnson and Johnson executive, and Randall Rader, a former Federal Circuit chief judge – for the USPTO director position. The official added that Kevin Rhodes, chief intellectual property counsel at 3M, is also among those who have been talked about for the Patent Office director slot and said the White House would likely be looking to finalize the people holding the USPTO deputy director and director positions by August or September, based on prior administration timelines. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) has previously told Ashley that he thinks Lee’s experience makes her a good fit for a position at OSTP…..

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