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Patent Office director touts agency's potential to stimulate economy

As Congress seeks to stoke the American economy and spur job growth, the Patent and Trademark Office could play a key role, said PTO Director David Kappos Friday.

Speaking to a crowd at a conference organized by Innovation Alliance, a group of companies seeking to protect patent rights, Kappos said his unheralded agency could help pump jobs and billions of dollars back into the economy if Congress is successful in passing legislation to ease a massive backlog in patent applications.

"As our country seeks to regain the 8 million jobs lost during the recent recession, the USPTO is a great place to start," Kappos said. "Countless inventions that can spark new businesses are right there, sitting in the backlog. And reducing that backlog is one of (our) highest priorities."

A bipartisan group of senators announced Thursday they would introduce a patent reform bill next week. Kappos said he would not comment on details of the legislation until it is formally introduced, but he said he "strongly supports" comprehensive reform and "applauds" the latest effort.

"Proposals in this legislation -- many that will help USPTO do its job better -- have been discussed for the better part of the last 10 years," he said. "And this is the Congress where we should and must finish those many years of work."

Kappos touted the value of innovation in America's economy and said that once the patent office is given all the resources it needs, it can help companies monetize their innovations better.

"We must provide an environment that allows American innovators, small and large, to protect their IP and attract capital based on their ideas," he said. "For businesses to flourish, we must provide timely and high quality access to IP rights."

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