U.S. Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) has requested the Administrative Conference of the United States, the federal agency tasked with making federal functions more efficient, to conduct a study into the feasibility of having a unified, singular federal office devoted to intellectual property, combining the registration and prosecution functions currently handled by both the United States Patent and Trademark Office and the United States Copyright Office, as well as executive enforcement actions currently performed by the White House Office of the Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator, in a letter dated January 26, 2022.
The key question surrounds the funding aspect of this new mega-IP office, which will either be a full fee, self-funded organization, a hybrid model of applicant fee-supported and Congressional appropriations, or a mixed hybrid model involving differing types of funding depending on what function the office will support. Additionally, Senator Tillis requests an analysis of the functioning aspects of a combined office and effects on streamlining duplicative IP services, among other things. The proposed new IP office would combine functions and responsibilities currently distributed among three federal departments, Department of Commerce (USPTO), Congress (USCO), and executive branch (IPEC).
The letter requests a deadline of February 1, 2023, and there is no mention of also combining the Plant Variety Protection Office, which is currently managed out of the Department of Agriculture.
We will continue to monitor this issue and report on the blog at a future date.