David Kappos’ View on Patent Reform

By Joseph Mandour on September 28, 2011

California Patent RegistrationSan Diego – Last Friday, David Kappos, the Director of the USPTO, weighed in with his thoughts on the passage of patent reform with Lisa Murphy on Bloomberg TV’s “Fast Forward.”

<strong>America Invents Act’s Effect on Current Backlog at the USPTO</strong>

According to Mr. Kappos, the current backlog at the USPTO is, on average, 33 months. Kappos recognized that the backlog is a huge problem at the PTO and stated that his goal is to reduce the pendency period to 20 months with the passage of the AIA. He explained that “<em>The law does several really important things. One, it simplifies our patent system to enable us to examine patent applications more effectively, more efficiently and therefore more quickly. Second thing the law does is it gives us the ability at the USPTO, for the very first time, to set our own fees, to set them to reflect the costs of the services that we perform and over time therefore to collect enough money in fees so that we can hire the additional examiners we need in order to work our way quickly through that backlog</em>.”

Mr. Kappos also revealed that, since the passage of the AIA, the USPTO would like to bring in “around 1,500 examiners and possibly up to 2,000 new examiners in the next year.” This is a substantial addition of new examiners considering that the addition would be on a base of about 7,000 examiners. Additionally, with the new funds, the USPTO may be able to restart programs that were indefinitely halted earlier this year due to funding cuts. One such program was its plan to open a satellite office in Detroit and potentially more satellite offices, pending the success of the Detroit office.

<strong>America Invents Act’s Effect on Job Creation</strong>

Proponents of patent reform have said that the reform would create 200,000 new jobs. The interviewer was skeptical of this number and couldn’t quite see the connection between patent reform and 200,000 jobs. When asked about his view, Mr. Kappos suggested that the figure was on the low side.

Mr. Kappos stated “<em>Having a strong patent system is very highly related to job creation. I’ve talked to CEOs of small companies all the time who tell me that it’s when they get their patents that they are able to go out and get the financing they need, start up a factory or a manufacturing line, and hire the employees they need. And that story is repeated thousands and thousands of times across the American economy every year. And so if you add all the opportunities up that are locked in our backlog of still around 675,000 unexamined applications, there are undoubtedly many thousands of opportunities to create new companies. Each one of those companies spawning many jobs. So frankly, I think there are many more than 200,000 jobs locked up in this agency over time</em>.”

It is easy to be skeptical of the 200,000-job figure, but after listening to Mr. Kappos and seeing his confidence in the reform, perhaps he is right. At least we know that the PTO itself will try to contribute 1,500 – 2,000 jobs to that figure.

You can see the entire interview <a href=”http://www.bloomberg.com/video/76013282/”>here</a>.

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