Tech Law Reporter Andrew Noyes today reports on rumors that Duke University Law Professor and occasional Patently-O contributor Arti Rai will be joining the USPTO executive suite as head of external affairs. That position typically leads both intra– and inter-governmental relations.
Professor Rai’s primary research focus over the past decade has been on the administrative powers of the USPTO and regulatory methods of promoting regulation especially in the areas of health care and biotechnology. In a 2009 article, Professor Rai suggests that the PTO should continue to use the courts to secure additional control over its own rulemaking and procedural authority.
Given the difficulties of securing congressional action—particularly when Congress may be unwilling or unable to separate relatively simple administrative reform from highly contentious issues like damage awards in litigation—the judiciary is probably the more promising venue for conferring such control.
Additionally, Rai argues that the PTO should move forward with inequitable conduct reform.
The progress that could be achieved through inequitable-conduct reform is difficult to overstate. With such reform, interactions with applicants could be regulated in a much more rational manner. In addition to accelerated examination, inequitable-conduct reform could also create opportunities (where appropriate) for more intensive, on-the-record engagement between the examiner and the applicant. For example, in appropriate cases, on-the-record pre-first-office-action interviews that obviate the need for multiple subsequent rounds of negotiation between examiner and applicant might be possible.
Professor Rai has long ties with President Obama. They were law school classmates at Harvard Law School and she worked tirelessly on the campaign. Prior to becoming a law professor, Rai clerked for Judge Patel (N.D. Cal.) and was an associate at Jenner & Block.
Her patent law expertise and close ties to President Obama also place her on a short list of Federal Circuit nominees should a vacancy arise.