The US Patent Office has fallen immensely behind in reviewing patent applications because it is understaffed way below any ability to keep up. This has not been helped by the fact that Congress has continually taken the money collected from patent applicaiton fees and diverted it to other programs. Yet Paul Ryan is trying to block an attempt to use the patent fees to fund the patent application office, all in the name of fiscal austerity. Innovation and productivity be damned, let's keep that money away from the government agency that is earning it.
According to a recent investigation by the Joural-Sentinel
The agency is swamped with a backlog of over 1.2 million applications still awaiting a final decision - technologies that cover almost every niche of the economy, areas as diverse as online commerce, medical scanners, engine transmissions and fishing lures. The Journal Sentinel investigation showed that many applications wait so long to be considered, the technologies they cover become obsolete. As a result, venture capitalists walk away, start-ups are stunted, and infringers freely steal ideas for lack of protection.