Just a Patent Examiner reports on another “casualty of the economy.” The examining corps received an email on March 23 that the Non-Duty Hours Legal Studies Program has been suspended effective March 16.
The program has been suspended and reinstated in the past. At a minimum, the suspension of the program is a major hassle for examiners already in law school. Best wishes to the examiners who now have to figure out how to pay for their next semester of law school, a semester for which the PTO had been counted on to pay.
Many variables in play here, but should the state of the economy get all or most of the blame for decreased revenues available to the PTO? At this point in time, probably. But, it will be interesting to see what filing, prosecution and maintenance fees look like once the economy has rebounded in view of any long-term effects from cases like Bilski, KSR, et al., and in view of further applicant-unfriendly rules like the claims and continuation and appeal rules. Not to mention what comes out of Congress in terms of “patent reform.”