Ensure USPTO has access to all of its fee collections

An important item on Congress’ to-do list before its August district work period is to ensure the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has access to all of its FY10 fee collections from the users of its services. 

Innovation is a critical driving force in our economic recovery. By providing the patent rights innovators need to attract investment and bring new products and services to the marketplace, the USPTO fuels innovation and promotes the creation of new jobs. It takes an average of three years to process patent applications. The current backlog of more than 720,000 patent applications represents stalled job creation and missed economic growth.  Although the USPTO has made progress in reducing those levels, we urgently need access to all of our FY10 fee collections in order to maintain current operations and even increase this momentum.

Without urgent congressional action to amend its current year appropriations, USPTO cannot invest its fee collections this year to make a dent in the backlog, hire new examiners, pay for overtime and make critical investments in IT infrastructure. Without help from the Congress, American companies, universities, and independent inventors hoping for patent approval to commercialize their new technologies and create new private sector jobs will have to wait unnecessarily for their patents to be granted.

Thankfully, a simple, and completely budget-neutral solution has been proposed by the administration that would allow USPTO access to all of its collections this year. But it requires fast Congressional action to maximize its effectiveness. I urge Congress to act swiftly on the administration’s request and help accelerate the pace of our economic recovery, for the sake of local businesses and entrepreneurs in each and every district of our country.

Alexandria, Va.

To newly appointed Sen.: Clean energy necessary

From Jon Gensler, MIT’s Sloan School of Management graduate student

To Sen. Carte Goodwin (D-W.Va.): I am very concerned about the economic health of West Virginia. As you are well aware, there are many serious challenges facing our country today, and few of them are felt more acutely anywhere than back in the Mountain State. Job loss; continued poverty; debates on how to fight the climate crisis so we can remain a prosperous country; and our continued military commitment overseas in two large and complex theaters are just a few of the issues you will be asked to tackle over the coming months.

I have no doubt that you are well versed in the struggles of the many out-of-work West Virginians back home. Large portions of our economy have been in a long slow decline for decades, providing fewer jobs and less wealth to our people. It will take a clear-eyed vision to see the way forward and bring others behind you.

There is a strong connection between those soldiers who have given their lives, and those who have lost their livelihoods during the Great Recession. Our national security is intimately tied to our economic security, and a forward looking progressive energy and climate policy will provide the means to solve them both. We in the mountains send more than our share of soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines off to defend our way of life. We also have a unique and storied history of providing the energy our nation has needed to fuel its unprecedented growth during the past 150 years. But it is no secret that our coal reserves cannot and will not continue to be a source of economic prosperity for our state. We need to take a leadership position in creating the new clean energy economy and harness the best of our past as we prepare to thrive in a dynamic global economy. West Virginia, both today and tomorrow, needs you to support comprehensive energy and climate legislation.

It will certainly be an unpopular vote back home. The coal-dominated media will make sure of that. But the people of the state will have a future. The entrepreneurs who will build the businesses of tomorrow will thank you. Plenty of coal miners will thank you for offering their children a better option than they had. And a generation of soldiers will not have to fight terrorists funded directly by our addiction to oil. This will save American lives overseas, and provide the best defense we have to combat violent extremism around the world: by helping restore a prosperous and opportunity-laden economy.

While attending West Point, I learned one fact very well above all else. Life is full of choices, and we are often asked to choose between an easy path and a difficult path. I urge you to choose the harder right over the easier wrong. In ten or fifteen years, while you are still young, you will be able to look back and say to yourself, “I helped create a new thriving clean energy economy in my state.”

Huntington, W.Va.