The USPTO has released a press release indicating that PTO Director Kappos has nominated "longtime USPTO executive Robert ("Bob") Stoll" for a five year term as Commissioner for Patents and has appointed Margaret ("Peggy") Focarino as Deputy Commissioner for Patents. It is the duty of Gary Locke (Secretary of Commerce) to actually appoint the Commissioner. 35 U.S.C. ? 3. The press release indicates that Secretary Locke has already "expressed support" for the nomination.
"Bob brings to this position a rare expertise in patent policy and practice, as well as a strong command of the inner-workings of the USPTO and the federal government," Kappos said. "Working hand-in-hand with Peggy, who has shown incredible skill in Patents management and operations, I know they will meet the formidable challenges facing the Patent organization, including the need to drastically reduce pendency, improve quality and boost efficiency, all while managing costs in a tough budgetary environment."
For his part, Secretary Locke again indicated his focus on patent prosecution pendency: "I have directed the USTPO to pursue an aggressive agenda to significantly reduce the time it takes to process patent applications. The length of time it takes causes uncertainty for inventors and entrepreneurs, stifles innovation and impedes our economic recovery."
About Bob Stoll: Stoll has been at the PTO for 27 years. Beginning as an examiner and then as a SPE before moving into executive management. He spent time as Director of the PTO's office of enforcement – helping fight counterfeiting and piracy and most recently has been working as "Dean of Training and Education." He has a BS in chemical engineering (Maryland) and a JD (Catholic U). Based on his past work, Stoll might be considered "pro patentee." Notably, he has argued that the US grace period should be extended abroad and has worked to organize private-public cooperative organizations to fight international counterfeiting. Stoll’s wife Suzanne Stoll is COO of the Raben Group lobbying firm and served as Chief of Staff and IP Counsel for Congresman Wexler (D-FL).
About Peggy Focarino: Focarino may be better known to the patent prosecution community than Stoll. She has been at the PTO for 32 years as an examiner, SPE, Tech Center director, and as Deputy Commissioner for Patent Operations. Her new role as Deputy Commissioner for Patents takes one word from her title, but it is unclear whether this will practically change her role. Rather, the new title may be more of an olive branch offered by Director Kappos since Focarino has been serving as acting Commissioner of Patents (not deputy) since January 2009. With the departure of John Doll, Focarino will clearly be the PTO executive with the most background and experience in PTO operations.
About John Doll: The Press release also indicates that John Doll is retiring. John Served as Acting Director of the PTO since January 2009 – the capstone of his 35 year career at the PTO. Congratulations to John Doll! Although I do not know his plans, I suspect that he could find a solid law firm job to take advantage of his extensive understanding of the US patent prosecution system.
Deputy Director Still Unknown: Director Kappos has not yet released his choice for the Deputy Director of the PTO. Like the Commissioner of Patents, the PTO director nominates but the Commerce Secretary has ultimate power to appoint. I expect that the Deputy Director will be someone currently outside of the PTO but inside the beltway.