by Dennis Crouch
In a message to her USPTO colleagues, USPTO Acting Director Teresa Stanek Rea has announced her intent to leave the agency in the near future. Director Rea joined the USPTO in 2011 as Deputy Director after Sharon Barner stepped down from that position. Rea worked closely with then USPTO Dave Kappos in developing and implementing key elements of the America Invents Act. She has been Acting Director since Kappos stepped down in January 2013. Prior to joining the USPTO, Rea was a partner at the law firm of Crowell & Morning.
The Obama administration has not yet nominated a replacement for Dave Kappos. That decision has apparently been delayed for the past nine months because the position of Secretary of Commerce (the USPTO Director's Boss) was also open. Penny Pritzker has now assumed office as the 38th US Secretary of Commerce and we can expect an announcement of a new USPTO director within the next few weeks. It is unclear whether Director Rea will stay on until an appointed director takes office. If not, the usual succession decision would place Peggy Focarino with the duties of Acting Director (although without that title). Ms. Focarino is currently Commissioner of Patents.