"Thousands of employees who review patents for the federal government potentially cheated taxpayers out of at least $18.3 million as they billed the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for almost 300,000 hours they never worked, according to a new investigation. The investigation scheduled for release Wednesday by the independent watchdog for the Commerce Department, the patent office’s parent agency, determined that the real scale of fraud is probably double those numbers..." The hours not worked could have helped the patent office whittle down a backlog it has struggled for years to shrink, the report said. The backlog stood at about 550,000 applications last spring. Reviews take 16 to 26 months to complete... The patent office, while relatively small, plays a big role in supporting the nation’s economic development by determining whether innovators’ new products should be given sole rights to exclude competitors from making or selling their invention. The government issued 326,000 patents last year."
Wednesday, August 31, 2016
Patent office workers bilked the government of millions by playing hooky, watchdog finds; Washington Post, 8/31/16
Lisa Rein, Washington Post; Patent office workers bilked the government of millions by playing hooky, watchdog finds: