Patent office sticks to automation

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officials say they plan to stay focused on automating the agency's patent systems in fiscal 2006 if lawmakers approve President Bush's $308 million budget request for USPTO's chief information officer.

The $308 million is "a good $5 million extra" compared with this year's CIO budget, said Arpie Balian, director of the office of corporate planning and budget officer at USPTO. Balian said the $5 million would be used largely for a strategic IT security initiative.

Balian said USPTO officials are implementing the agency's 21st-century strategic plan, which was put on hold when they failed to get funding for their fiscal 2004 spending plans.

The president's budget request submitted to Congress this week includes $80.1 million for the Patent Automation System and $17.6 million for the Trademark Automation System. Balian said the trademark system needs comparatively less money because it is much further along in development than the patent system.

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