Director Michelle Lee to testify before the Committee

Washington, D.C.  – On Tuesday, September 13, 2016 at 1:00 p.m., Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Michelle Lee will testify before the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet at an oversight hearing of the Patent and Trademark Office.  USPTO is the government agency that grants patents and registers trademarks for American inventions and innovations.

The hearing will examine the general function of the Patent and Trademark Office. Of particular concern is the Department of Commerce Inspector General’s (IG) comprehensive review of time and attendance fraud at USPTO.  The report, which was released at the end of August, shows that even after the Patent and Trademark Office implemented new telework policies aimed at reducing fraud and abuse, the problem persisted.

The hearing will also examine USPTO’s implementation of the America Invents Act (AIA) to ensure that the implementation of the bill is in line with the AIA’s goals to promote innovation and create jobs.

Additionally, the oversight hearing will be an opportunity to examine other important patent reform issues including how to deal with abusive patent litigation and how USPTO can ensure patent quality.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet Subcommittee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) released the following statements in advance of next week’s hearing.

Chairman Goodlatte: “The intellectual property industry in America is a major driving force and job-creating engine of our economy. We must do all we can to ensure that this vital sector of our economy is protected and able to flourish.  Next week’s oversight hearing is critical to ensuring that the USPTO is held accountable and that it is doing everything within its power to protect America’s intellectual property.

“I am extremely concerned about the recent Inspector General’s report that indicates time and attendance fraud is still a serious problem at the Patent and Trademark Office.  The amount of wasted man-hours that could have been spent reducing the patent backlog is astounding, not to mention the millions of taxpayer dollars that were wasted paying USPTO employees for work they were not doing.

“I am also concerned about the recent Government Accountability Office’s study that indicated the increase in the number of patent infringement lawsuits being filed can be directly attributed to concerns over patent quality.  While the Patent and Trademark Office has taken steps to improve patent quality, the GAO found that more work is needed in this area.

“I look forward to hearing from Director Lee and learning more about how she and the Patent and Trademark Office are addressing these important issues.”

Subcommittee Chairman Issa: “The latest report raises serious questions about the integrity of our patent system. For innovation to flourish, Americans need to be assured that our Patent and Trademark Office is implementing procedures that guarantee high-quality work from our patent inspectors. If the PTO can’t even guarantee sufficient oversight of its employees timecards, how can we be assured patent examiners aren’t just rubberstamping ideas without oversight as well? I look forward to getting answers to these important questions and seeing what changes the agency will implement squash this abuse and ensure our patent examiners are doing the thoughtful, through review of our patent applications they are supposed to.”

This hearing will take place in 2237 Rayburn House Office Building and will be webcast live at https://republicans-judiciary.house.gov/. Camera crews wishing to cover must be congressionally-credentialed and RSVP with the House Radio-TV Gallery at (202) 225-5214.

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