WEB PATENT NEWS - January, 2005

by Robert M. Hunter, Registered Patent Agent

News about patents, licensing and seed capital sources for inventors and innovating organizations.


I. SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION PROPOSES SIZE RULE CHANGES - Do you support participation in SBIR programs by businesses that are owned and controlled by venture capital companies?

II. U.S. PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE FEE DIVERSIONS CONTINUE - Inventors' fees continue to be diverted to the pay for other government costs as patent quality suffers.

III. RADICAL CHANGES PROPOSED IN U.S. PATENT SYSTEM - The U.S. patent system could undergo some significant changes if current proposals are adopted.

III. UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII BUSINESS PLAN COMPETITION - With at least one UH student on your team, you can compete for for $80,000 in cash prizes.


The Small Business Administration (SBA) is requesting comments on its proposal to allow businesses owned and controlled by venture capital companies to participate in Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) programs. Other small business size rule changes are also being considered. The comment period has been extended and will now close on April 3, 2005.

You can review the proposed changes here. An analysis of the proposed changes by the SBIR Gateway is presented here. The position of the Small Business Technology Coalition (SBTC) is explained here.


The fees inventors pay the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) were significantly increased on December 8, 2004, as I indicated they would be in my May 2004 newsletter. The provisions in the version of the appropriations bill passed earlier by the House (H.R. 1561) that would have prohibited USPTO fee diversions were deleted in the final bill, H.R. 4818, the Consolidated Appropriations Act for 2005. You can review the current fees here.

The USPTO Performance and Accountability Report for Fiscal Year 2004 shows that patent quality is declining and that patent pendency (the time required for examination) continues to increase. Average patent pendency in some high tech fields now exceeds 40 months. You can view the report (and weep) here.

According to the report, "The slow growth in total budgetary resources available for spending has had, and continues to have, an impact on the USPTO operations which has resulted in slower implementation of the 21st Century Strategic Plan and the PMA, including hampering the USPTO's ability to make critical investments in resources and technology necessary for developing and/or acquiring automated systems to move to a fully electronic operating environment, and improve pendency. The slow growth in total budgetary resources continues to affect the USPTO's ability to keep pace with the growing number of applications."


A report of the National Research Council that calls for significant changes in the U. S. patent system is available for review here. The response of the American Intellectual Property Law Association (AIPLA), a national intellectual property bar association of more than 14,000 members, is available here. In my January 2004 newsletter, I described some of the changes to the U.S. patent system that were being proposed by the Federal Trade Commission.

Many stakeholders in the patent system will be affected by the recommended changes. A series of Town Meetings will be held in February and March 2005 to solicit the stakeholders' input about what the problems are and what changes need to be made. The Town Meetings will culminate in the summer of 2005 in a conference in Washington, DC. You can learn more about the Town Meetings here.


The 2005 University of Hawaii Business Plan Competition provides an integrative learning experience for participants who are interested in pursuing entrepreneurial opportunities. Teams vie for $80,000 in cash prizes, with the help of community business mentors, help sessions and special speakers. All teams must include at least one University of Hawaii student in a key role. The registration deadline is February 17, 2005.

Entrepreneurs who are looking for new product ideas can contact the University Connections program at the University of Hawaii. The University Connections program helps connect entrepreneurs inside and outside the University of Hawaii with the resources they need to succeed.

These programs are part of a series of Hawaii technology development initiatives, which include a highly competitive package of tax incentives for technology companies doing business in the state.


Robert M. (Bob) Hunter, Ph.D.
Licensed Professional Engineer
Registered Patent Agent
65-1116 Hoku'ula Rd.
P.O. Box 2709
Kamuela, HI 96743
tel (808) 885-4194
fax (808) 885-4114
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