STATEMENT OF THE INTERNATIONAL TRADEMARK ASSOCIATION
ON THE DEVELOPMENT OF A CAMPUS FOR THE UNITED STATES PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE

Chairman Warner, Ranking Member Baucus, and Members of the Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure:

The International Trademark Association (INTA) is pleased to submit a statement in connection with this Subcommittee's investigation of the development of a campus for the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Since we are an organization devoted to the protection of trademarks, we have chosen to focus our comments on the space facilities and maintenance of the Trademark Office, the office within the USPTO charged with the processing and examination of trademark applications and maintenance of the trademark register.

In our opinion, the time has come for the Trademark Office to receive additional, modern quarters in Northern Virginia which meet its own business needs, as well as those of its customers -- the trademark owners. As we will explain in more detail later, business at the Trademark Office is growing at an incredible rate. Additional personnel are expected to come on board in the near future and need adequate space in which to work. There are plans for new electronic systems that will help increase the efficiency of examining the increased number of trademark applications. These innovative systems will require modern wiring which current space does not afford. In short, the Trademark Office must be prepared to enter the 21st Century.

ABOUT INTA

INTA is a 121-year-old not-for-profit membership organization. Since its founding in 1878, membership has grown from 12 New York-based manufacturers to more than 3,600 members that are drawn from across the United States and from 119 additional countries. Membership in INTA is open to trademark owners and those who serve trademark owners. Its members are corporations, advertising agencies, professional and trade associations, and law firms practicing trademark law. All of INTA's members, regardless of their size or location, share an interest in trademarks and a recognition of the importance of trademarks to their owners, to the general public, and to the economy of the United States and the global marketplace.

THE TRADEMARK OFFICE TODAY

The Trademark Office, just like the patent side of the USPTO, is totally user-fee funded. Contrary to recent media reports, not one penny of taxpayer money is used to operate or manage the agency. When an applicant pays $245 per class filing fee for each trademark application, for example, it is that money and only that money which is used to process and then examine the application. There are no funds taken from the public coffers. The funds needed to maintain the physical aspects of the Trademark Office are also taken from these and other user-fees. Everything from a new light bulb to new computers is paid for by trademark owners.

It is also significant to note that trademark owners, over a significant period of time, have turned increasingly to the Trademark Office to register their trademarks so that they can receive the maximum degree of protection permitted by law. For example, between FY 1975 and FY 1995, the number of trademark applications filed per year rose from 34,900 to 175,307. In FY 1997, the number of applications filed was 224,355.

THE FUTURE AND THE NEED FOR ADDITIONAL PERSONNEL

The increase in trademark applications is a trend that shows no evidence of slowing in the future. The Administration estimates that there will be 250,000 trademark applications filed during FY 1998, and an increase to 275,000 in FY 1999. As a result of these anticipated filings, the Trademark Office is expected to have 375 examining attorneys in place by January,1999, an increase of 75 from today. In recent months, in anticipation of these new hires, the Trademark Office has been forced to scour existing space in Crystal City, often disrupting operations in the process. It should also be noted that there is a lack of space to train the new examiners. The Office must now rent hotel conference rooms in order to conduct training classes.

Trademark Office officials report that they have actually been granted the authority to hire an additional 25 examining attorneys above the 375 number we quoted just a moment ago. However, because there is no longer any space in Crystal City for these attorneys, the Office has been forced to put an "artificial" hiring freeze in place.

THE NEED FOR ADDITIONAL AND MODERN SPACE

How can the Trademark Office limit disruption, while at the same time ensure customer satisfaction? The answer, in our opinion, is modern facilities. INTA believes that the proposed USPTO campus will provide these benefits. The campus will contain up-to-date technology, will be contiguous (as opposed to the 17 non-contiguous buildings which the Agency now occupies), and contain sufficient room for personnel.

However, as it is our user-fees, and not taxpayer dollars as some have charged, which would go towards the leasing of this space, we strongly urge Congress to conduct effective oversight of the project. We are clearly concerned about cost, eliminating any excess or inappropriate expenses, and accurate estimates concerning the relationship between the number of applications and the rate of new personnel. The USPTO must exercise fiscal responsibility and incorporate sound business practices. We also request that Congress help to ensure that the Trademark Office is given its fair share of the facilities and that it is not preempted by the needs of the patent operations, as has so often been the case in the past.

CONCLUSION

INTA hopes that this statement will help to persuade the Subcommittee, and for that matter the Congress, that there is a need to secure additional, modern space for the Trademark Office. The USPTO, more specifically the Trademark Office, is just like a private sector business. It is funded by its customers. Its needs are driven by its customers. Simple business practice dictates that when volume is high, as it is at the Trademark Office today, you must expand and modernize to meet customer needs.

We urge the Congress to look carefully at the needs of the Trademark Office and its customers when making a decision regarding the USPTO campus.