Information on the Public Patent Advisory Committee

The USPTO’s Patent Public Advisory Committee (PPAC) is charged with reviewing the “policies, goals, performance, budget, and fees” of the USPTO.  The PPAC tends to work closely with USPTO upper management, including the director. PPAC members are public officials and are also paid by the government for their services at a rate well above my salary.

Although the PPAC serves only an advisory role, its members do have a direct-line to the PTO director that is mandated by statute.  Folks with particular concerns may do well to contact the members directly. Since the USPTO does not offer contact-information for these officials, so I thought I would do so here.

Current PPAC Members:

  • Marc Adler, former Chief IP Counsel at Rohm & Haas, now an independent consultant. [Contact].
  • Louis Foreman, product designer, inventor, and author. [Contact].
  • F. Scott Kieff, professor at GWU Law School and Senior Fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution. [Contact].
  • Damon Matteo, IP director (intellectual capital management) at the Palo Alto Reserach Center (parc). [Contact].
  • Steve Pinkos, former Deputy PTO Director, now a lobbyist and IP Advisor. [Contact].
  • Maureen Toohey, Patent attorney at her own law firm (Toohey Law Group). [Contact].

8 thoughts on “Information on the Public Patent Advisory Committee

  1. 7

    From a different thread: link to
    but worth posting again here due to Malcolm’s (continued) anti-patent stance,

    Examiner Mooney – much as you like to pretend that you are a respectable practitioner, your biases simply give you away. The very “Charles H. Duell” type of pronouncement above – “…a patent is made objectively more difficult for everyone.” only makes sense to someone brought up in the anti-patent environment of the Office.

    If the basic supposition that a patent is truly earned by meeting the requirements of the Law, there is NO valid reason NOT to HAVE more patents or even to WANT to have more patents.


    If the Law is met and we DO have more patents, that means a couple of things:
    – The Office is SUCCEEDING in its role to promote advancement. As more use of the system – resulting in more (earned) patents – MUST mean more innovation is being shared with humanity.
    – An earned patent ADDS to humanity. It does not detract. Only for a limited time, is the addition muted for exclusivity.
    – “promotion” SHOULD feed on itself. Humanity should accelerate its ability to grow, understand and cultivate wisdom. A government that PROMOTES innovation should be lauded. Increased filings should be expected. Malcolm’s lack of understanding of what “promotion” means is clearly evident. There is no caveat next to “promote” to so limit promotion to only those items that can achieve promotion by NO other means. NONE.
    – The “let’s close the doors” crowd is being excised from Office.

    I DO premise this on my long-standing articulated belief that NO stamping of applications is appropriate – that means stamping EITHER reject-reject-reject OR pass-pass-pass is desirable. Applications MUST be examined. Those that merit MUST pass. When more patents are passed with merit, this means more shared innovation. Anyone wishing for (deserved) patents to be difficult to be obtained betrays a FUNDAMENTAL misunderstanding of why the Office is even in business. It is in taking such joy in a wrong position that reveals not just arrogance, but ignorance.

    Not surprising that one such person is Malcolm.

  2. 6

    The new members of the PPAC were appointed last week:
    Daniel B. Borson
    Steven W. Miller, VP and GC of IP at Proctor&Gamble
    Esther M. Kepplinger, Wilson, Sonsini

  3. 5

    35 USC 5(a) calls for a nine member PPAC. Only 6 names are listed here and on the USPTO web site. Does anyone know when the new members of the PPAC will be appointed? The applications for 2009 were submitted in May.

  4. 3

    F. Scott Kieff, professor at GWU Law School and Senior Fellow at Stanford’s Conservative Think Tank, the Hoover Institution.

    It seems to me that the pro-patent freaks are well-represented in this panel. It’s about as politically diverse as your average Sunday morning talk show, which is to say it represents the “complete spectrum” from the far right wing to the center.

  5. 2

    I think the lowest hanging fruit for improving patent quality is simply not examining each application that has been filed with the US Patent Office. Most patent applications are never commercialized, but are filed as options to possibly pursue in the future.

    Allow applicants to file an application without placing that application in the examination pipeline (e.g., “deferred examination”). After the filing and publication, either the applicant OR any anonymous third party, can pay a fee to pull that application into examination. After the fee is paid, the application proceeds as normal.

    I believe many applications would never enter the examination pipeline and thus reduce the PTO’s burden permitting the PTO to focus on commercially important patent applications. Allowing anyone to initiate an examination removes the possibility of an application pending for a period of time without an examination causing uncertainty.

    My other concern doesn’t relate to the PTO specifically, but will likely impact it. The uncertain law (or reduced standards) for DJ actions will likely greatly inhibit license transactions. We will see more patents assigned to NPEs as parties can no longer license themselves and more anti-patent rhetoric because of increased NPE activity. We need to focus on greatly decreasing the transaction costs and risks of licensing patents (a proper balancing of DJ law and willful infringement law to encourage parties to act reasonably). JMHO

  6. 1

    Thanks Dennis.
    The one time I contacted a PPAC member [for whom I had an email address] with a general issue I did see some later action, so it might help.
    Otherwise, the information the PPAC gets seems to be largely that which the PTO gives to them, and of course many PPAC members [selected by the PTO] are not current PTO practitioners, or not even patent attorneys.

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