Joe T. Bradley writes "President Bush, as part of his 2007 fiscal budget, has revived the proposal that the Patent Office be allowed to keep all the fees it collects. Since the USPTO makes a profit, the government has been siphoning off money for years, and many critics claim that letting them keep the money will improve our patent woes. But not so fast, say some: 'If the USPTO relies only on funding from patent applicants, it is beholden to no one but patent holders, and becomes the poster-child example of regulatory capture.'" This is another bad idea from folks who clearly aren't thinking through the real problems at the root of the patent system. This is a "throw more money at the problem" type of solution, without any consideration for the unintended consequences it will lead to. Besides simply encouraging more patents (and more patent applications) it's based on the fundamentally false idea that the patent system can be solved by hiring more patent examiners. The problem, though, is that patent examiners don't scale -- and any system that encourages more patents will overwhelm however many new patent examiners are hired. The patent system needs to focus on making sure that fewer, better patents are granted -- not more problematic patents.
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