Republicans propose compromise to save patent reform

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"This maintains congressional oversight, while making sure that fees collected by the PTO can no longer be diverted to other federal programs by appropriators," Smith said in a statement.

“Since 1992, nearly $1 billion has been diverted from the PTO. The average wait time for patent approval is three years. Inadequate funding of the PTO hurts America’s innovators and job creators."

It remains unclear whether supporters of the bill in the business community will back the compromise. Even if the amended bill passes the House, the changes would have to be reconciled with the Senate bill, which allows the Patent Office to keep its fees. Supporters including Smith argue the PTO badly needs the additional resources.

“Since 1992, nearly $1 billion has been diverted from the PTO. The average wait time for patent approval is three years," Smith said. "Inadequate funding of the PTO hurts America’s innovators and job creators."

The bill has other opponents who argue the switch to a first-to-file patent system will lead to a migration of patents towards firms and organizations with the resources to constantly file for patents.

Groups representing small inventors and some Democrats, includuing House Judiciary ranking member John Conyers (D-Mich.), are among those opposing the bill on grounds other than the fee diversion dispute.