Republican Senator Judd Gregg appears poised to be nominated as the next Secretary of Commerce. The PTO reports to Commerce, and the next Secretary will likely play an important role in selecting the next PTO directors and in directing PTO policy.
As it turns out, one of Senator Gregg's more controversial actions involves patent issues. In 2000, Gregg's alma mater Columbia University convinced Greg to insert a patent extension provision into an ag spending bill. If it had passed, the extension would have given new life to Columbia's about-to-expire patents that were earning $100 million annually through licensing agreements. [NYTimes][Quinn].
In the past, Senator Gregg has sponsored legislation for rapid approval of generic biosimilars after expiration of the original patents and legislation to extend patents that help support the war on terror. For years, Senator Gregg has also been deeply involved in appropriations.