You probably know that the US Patent Office is sorely undermanned and underfunded. You may not know that the Office actually generates all its own income, and operates on the fees of those that use it.
What's worse, Congress actually takes money from the Office and uses it for the general fund. This skimming runs to the total of about a billion dollars over ten years. No wonder the system doesn't have enough capital! Hopefully the recent patent bill will help, but I've become a little pessimistic about Congress nowadays.