USPTO's $242M Sequester Cut May Hurt Hiring, Backlog Plans

March 01, 2013

​Stuart Meyer, chair of Fenwick’s post-grant proceedings practice, is quoted in a Law360 article titled “USPTO’s $242M Sequester Cut May Hurt Hiring, Backlog Plans” (subscription required).

The article reports that under the sequester the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will need to cut $242 million from its budget. According to the article, experts say that while operations should not be affected in the short-term, the office may ultimately need to make hiring reductions and cuts to its technology budget.

Meyer is paraphrased saying that even these seemingly minor cuts are “worrisome because the office has made significant headway in cutting the backlog of pending applications and the length of time it takes for patents to be examined.”

"The USPTO has spent years trying to bring down the backlog and things have finally started to get better," he said. "I think the office's operations are quite sensitive to change. Even a minor effect can turn a good trajectory into a bad one."

Meyer said that the result could be a larger number of pending applications and reduced quality in the processing of applications.

"This is a little bit scary to me, given the optimistic trend of the last few years," he said.

Additionally, Meyer said that the budget cuts could hamper the USPTO's plan to open satellite offices around the country.

"The satellite offices are in varying stages of development, so you have to wonder if they're going to be first on the chopping block," Meyer said. "They may have to be put on ice for a while."