Margaret (Peggy) Focarino is the Commissioner for Patents for the United States Patent & Trademark Office. She joined the USPTO in 1977 as a patent examiner and joined the Senior Executive team in 1997 under Bruce Lehman. Throughout this time, Focarino has continued as a much admired and trusted administrator of the agency. In many ways, her role has been that of a strong stabilizing force within an office facing a rise in political pressure on a variety of fronts. Although the job does involve setting policies regarding patent policies, much of the work is centered around operations — running a 10,000+ member governmental organization.
This week, Focarino announced her upcoming retirement scheduled for early July 2015. Congratulations Peggy on your commitment and service to the office!
I suspect that Director Michelle Lee will name Focarino’s successor quickly. There is a natural chain of succession that would raise one of the deputy commissioners to the role of commissioner. Current deputies include Deputy Commissioner for Patents Operations Andrew Faile; Deputy Commissioner for Patent Examination Policy Andrew Hirshfeld; Deputy Commissioner for Patent Quality Valencia Martin-Wallace; Deputy Commissioner for Patent Administration Bruce Kisliuk; and Deputy Commissioner for the Office of International Patent Cooperation Mark Powell. Of these, Faile and Hirshfeld are the most likely candidates. Of course, there is no requirement that Director Lee follow this order of succession or even that she appoint a “career” patent office employee to the position.