House Appropriations Committee members have opposed a provision in patent reform legislation that would allow the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) to keep the application fees it collects. In a June 7, 2011, letter to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), four committee members contend that allowing the patent office to keep the fees “undermines efforts to strengthen oversight and accountability of the PTO as well as efforts to ensure resources are being used wisely and appropriately.”

Recently passed by the House Judiciary Committee, the America Invents Act is expected to come before the full House soon; it is endorsed by the Obama administration, which called the measure the most meaningful patent reform in 60 years. The House bill closely resembles legislation overwhelmingly approved by the Senate earlier this year.

Those in favor of the USPTO keeping application fees argue that the agency needs the money to tackle the backlog of more than 1 million pending patent applications. “These are products and innovations that can grow businesses, create jobs and save lives,” said House Judiciary Chair and bill sponsor Lamar Smith (R-Texas). “Allowing the PTO to retain the fees it collects means more patent examiners to help get products to the market faster.” See The Hill, June 9, 2011.