In September 2013, USPTO Acting Director Teresa Stanek Rea gave notice that she would step down from the agency in the near future. She has now acted-on that notice and has left the agency. Rea has been Acting Director since January 2013 when David Kappos left to take at the NY Corporate firm of Cravath. Congratulations to Director Rea on her successful tenure that will largely be seen as working toward practical goals of implementing the first-to-file and post-issuance review provisions of the America Invents Act (AIA) in a time of budget cuts and Washington contention. Prior to joining the USPTO in 2011, Rea was a partner at Crowell & Morning.
Peggy Focarino, the commissioner of patents, has now stepped in with the duties of acting director. The PTO’s closest link with the White House now is through its Chief of Staff Andrew Byrnes. Unfortunately, Mr. Byrnes has only been in the role since September 2013. Prior to that Byrnes was a litigator at Covington & Burling.
Under the patent statute, the USPTO Director “shall be appointed by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate. The Director shall be a person who has a professional background and experience in patent or trademark law.” 35 U.S.C. § 3. The Deputy is then chosen by the Secretary of Commerce upon nomination by the PTO Director. The next director is expected to be a PTO outsider, but no names are forthcoming at this point.
In an email this morning, Hal Wegner distributed the above screen-shot with the caption: Whither Administration Leadership in Patents?