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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Appropriations Process: A Brief Explanation

Wendy H. Schacht
Specialist in Science and Technology Policy

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) examines and approves applications for patents on claimed inventions and administers the registration of trademarks. It also assists other federal departments and agencies to protect American intellectual property in the international marketplace. The USPTO is funded by user fees paid by customers that are designated as “offsetting collections” and subject to spending limits established by the Committee on Appropriations.

Until recently, appropriation measures limited USPTO use of all fees accumulated within a fiscal year. Critics of this approach argued that because agency operations are supported by payments for services, all fees were necessary to fund these services in the year they were provided. Some experts claimed that a portion of the patent and trademark collections were being used to offset the cost of other, non-related programs. Proponents of limiting use of funds collected maintained that the fees appropriated back to the USPTO were sufficient to cover the agency’s operating budget.

Date of Report: January 6, 2011
Number of Pages: 6
Order Number: RS20906
Price: $19.95

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