Now that USPTO Director Michelle Lee has fully taken office as Director, the next position-filling step will be to hire a Deputy Director. The Patent Act provides that the USPTO Director (Lee) will nominate a Deputy Director but that the Secretary of Commerce (Pritzker) has the power to make the actual appointment. 35 U.S.C. 3. According to the statute, the Deputy Director must “be a citizen of the United States who has a professional background and experience in patent or trademark law.” In a speech yesterday, Director Lee added her goal of “identifying the perfect individual for this position, someone who from day one can join with me and the rest of the agency’s leadership in promoting intellectual property and advancing innovation.”
Hal Wegner has mentioned two possible nominees: Russ Slifer (Director of the USPTO Denver Office) and Christal Sheppard (new Director of the USPTO Detroit Office). Slifer and Sheppard are current USPTO executives who have spent most of their careers outside the agency. Mike Walker (DuPont) has also been suggested as an excellent candidate, but it may be difficult to draw him away from his chief-IP-counsel role. It would be fun to have Kevin Noonan.