The White House has announced its intent to nominate David J. Kappos as Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) with the official title of Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property. Mr. Kappos has spent his entire career with IBM – both as an electrical engineer and later as a patent attorney. Kappos ends his IBM career (at least for now) as Vice President and Assistant General Counsel, Intellectual Property Law. He is a board member of both AIPLA and IPO.
From the get-go, Mr. Kappos has been a rumored frontrunner to replace Director Jon Dudas and Interim Director John Doll. In a May 2009 article, I announced my support for Mr. Kappos. In that article, I noted the value of having “a patent office director who understands patents and who has been fully involved with all aspects of the patent system for the past twenty years. I believe that Kappos will be a careful shepherd of the system - leaving it better off in six years than it is today.”
As someone who writes daily about US Patent Law, I am excited about the Kappos nomination because he is likely to open access to previously hidden data and information. He will also work to create systems that work and measures that are meaningful.
I suspect that the biggest challenge for Mr. Kappos will be moving beyond the unique IBM perspective. Big Blue is an atypical patent owner in its internal systems, patenting volume, and licensing power. As I discussed earlier, it will be important for him to spend time understanding how the rest of the patent community operates.
- White House Announcement
- Leahy Statement: “The USPTO faces serious challenges in this difficult economic environment, and the office requires strong leadership. David Kappos is such a leader. I look forward to working with him on issues confronting the USPTO, including reducing the backlog and pendency of patent applications and modernizing the patent system as Congress considers the Patent Reform Act.”
- EETimes Article: Quoting Mark Lemley: "The PTO is in crisis, and I think Dave Kappos understands that, and will work creatively to try to find ways out of the crisis, I also think he is sensitive to the need for patent reform, which is a good thing."
- March 2009 Testimony of Kappos
- IP Law Insights (Perkins Coie Blog) summarizes an earlier Kappos article: (1) Patent applicants are responsible for the quality and clarity of their patent applications. (2) Patent applications should be available for public examination. (3) Patent ownership should be transparent and easily discernable. (4) Pure business methods without technical merit should not be patentable.
- Patent Prospector on Kappos and the recent poorly researched WSJ Article.
- From the USPTO Website: “If he is confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Kappos will take control of an office that provides incentives to encourage technological advancement and helps businesses protect their investments, promote their goods and safeguard against deception in the marketplace. The office continues to deal with a patent application backlog of more than 770,000, long waiting periods for patent review, information technology systems that are regarded as outdated and an application process in need of reform.”