On February 26, 2009, it was announced that the Obama Administration’s budget includes language permitting the USPTO to retain all of its collected fee revenue for operational expenditures. Also, the U.S. House of Representatives separately passed an appropriations bill which allows the USPTO to retain its collected fees with no diversion.
The issue of fee diversion has been controversial in recent years. Previously, the government had diverted user fees collected by the USPTO for other governmental purposes. In recent years, it has been recognized that for the USPTO to operate more efficiently, it must be permitted to utilize fee revenue to improve operations. This year’s agreement on fee diversion is a positive development; however, since fee revenue is considered on an annual basis by Congress, it is possible that a change in political climate could result in reinstatement of fee diversion in future years.
An explanatory statement in the appropriations bill directs the USPTO to take action to reduce duplication of work performed by other patent offices, thus seemingly endorsing the multi-jurisdictional work-sharing arrangements that have been pursued by the USPTO recently.