For example, patent lawyers are a bit apprehensive over the administration's proposal to jack up fees for patents. The present filing fee is $235; Carter administration legislation will take it to $400 next January. But the Reagan administration is seeking to amend that to $800 for processing, $300 for filing and $400 for issuing a patent, plus a $2,400 fee to maintain the patent during its 17-year life.
Thus the cost of a patent could jump from $235 to $3,900 in short order. On top of that, the administration also wants to be able to raise fees periodically without having to bother Congress.
A tract signed jointly by the American Patent Law Association and the Trademark and Copyright Law Section of the Virginia State Bar says the proposed high costs of patents will discourage small inventors (and thus Yankee ingenuity) and that the Commerce Department's Patent and Trademark Office will have no real incentive for cost-effective management with all that money rolling in.
Patent Commissioner Gerald J. Mossinghoff said, "We don't think the only real experience we have bears out" the concern that inventors will be discouraged. If patent fees had been indexed to the cost-of-living since 1965, he said, they would be higher today than the administration's proposal.
"Patent fees," he said, "are a very, very small percentage of the cost to go from a creative idea to a marketable product."
As for accountability, Mossinghoff noted that Congress will still have four shots a year at his budget (through the House and Senate authorizing and appropriating committees).
He hopes to make the Patent Office 90 percent self-sufficient, a state of grace last achieved in the 1930s, he said. Further, he said, the backlog in patent applications has been increasing by 20,000 each year and money is needed to hire 600 more examiners in four years and to automate information retrieval.