Scott Graham of The National Law Journal reports that Chief Judge Rader is in the mix to be the next USPTO Director. Rader wrote hundreds of patent opinions during his 25 years on the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, including four as Chief Judge. Prior to joining the judiciary, Rader spent eight years as counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Patents, Trademarks, and Copyrights. He is a recipient of the Jefferson Medal for exceptional contributions to the field of intellectual property law. In a fairly minor scandal, Judge Rader resigned from the bench in 2014. At that time, I wrote:
Judge Rader is a longtime member of the court and has been a gregarious Chief Judge. His willingness to have frank and open discussions on a variety of patent law issues has been welcomed by the bar as has his work to build ties with patent law authorities from around the globe. Those connections will continue to serve the court well into the future. However, this outgoing approach has also been criticized as contrary to the traditions of judicial detachment and seclusion.
Judge Rader has the patent law and political expertise to do this job — question whether he would really want to run a 10,000 person organization. Rader likely has strong support from President Pro Tempore of the United States Senate Orin Hatch.
In my mind, the other leading candidate is Phil Johnson. The PTO directorship would serve as a capstone to a truly incredible career. Trump and his team have substantial trademark experience, and so an internal dark-horse candidate is always likely.
Because of her ties to the Obama Administration, I see it as highly unlikely that current PTO director Michelle Lee would be asked to stay-on even temporarily in that position.
PTO Director wears many hats, but I see the primary job as leading the 10,000+ examiners and judges to ensure a high quality work product at a reasonable cost and speed. Patent and trademark experience are certainly necessary – but I would think it is also important to have experience or understanding of managing such a large workforce of unionized employees.
Congratulations to Harold McElhinny on his retirement from MoFo; he has apparently refused calls from Trump Tower.