Three new PPAC Members: Charles Duan, Suzanne Harrison, and Heidi Nebel

The Secretary of Commerce has announced three new members of the USPTO’s  Patent Public Advisory Committee (PPAC): Charles Duan, Suzanne Harrison, and Heidi S. Nebel.  Congratulations! All three of these individuals care deeply about improving the patent system, and now have an official seat at the table.

The PPAC is charged with advising the PTO Director on the “policies, goals, performance, budget, and user fees of the United States Patent and Trademark Office with respect to patents.” 35 U.S.C. 5.

PPAC Members:

  1. Steven Caltrider (Chair) – VP and General Patent Counsel, Eli Lilly and Company;
  2. Tracy-Gene Durkin (Vice Chair) – Director at Sterne Kessler;
  3. Jeffrey Sears – Associate General Counsel and Chief Patent Counsel at Columbia University;
  4. Jeremiah Chan – Director and Associate General Counsel at Meta (FB);
  5. Daniel Brown – Professor at the Segal Design Institute of Northwestern University;
  6. Judge Susan Braden – Former Judge of the Ct. Fed. Claims;
  7. Charles Duan – IP-focused public policy researcher at R Street Institute and formerly with Public Knowledge;
  8. Suzanne Harrison – Percipience LLC (IP Strategy); and
  9. Heidi Nebel – McKee, Voorhees & Sease.

These folks are all charged with receiving public input and using it in the process of building a better patent system.  The next public meeting will be in February 2022.

28 thoughts on “Three new PPAC Members: Charles Duan, Suzanne Harrison, and Heidi Nebel

  1. 5

    December 22, 2021 at 1:27 pm

    Many of the individuals on PPAC are respected practitioners, but as a group this body is worthless. Case in point: the PTO’s continued insistence of rolling out “patentcenter”, which has bugs that have been unaddressed for three years and about which the PTO isn’t interested in input. (Why couldn’t they just have bought ePCT from WIPO? *that* system actually works, and is constantly being improved in response to user input.) Another case in point: the PTO’s bullheaded move to go to mandatory submission of .docx files, which since day one has been peppered with lies. But you won’t hear a peep out of PPAC about it. Not only that, the head of IT at the PTO gets recognized for ostensibly being a great IT manager, even though the systems over which he presides stink and even though he’s not interested in hearing from end users about what needs to be done to improve them.

  2. 4

    The feedback from some former heads of prominent IP groups is that unless you are well-connected, don’t bother trying to get on ppac.

  3. 3

    Maybe the new PPAC can spend some time addressing the appalling state of IT at the PTO, like PatentCenter and .docx (not to mention the unannounced evening shutdown on the 15th); and maybe they could spend a little time addressing the propensity of the PTO create unnecessary rulemaking, like the now-deferred CLE proposal. There’s a lot to be done, but to the extent PPAC has tried to do anything before, they have signally failed.

    1. 3.1

      PPAC members can ask questions from the PTO, but they have no investigative staff that I am aware of, and no enforcement authority. However, there is nothing preventing anyone from writing or emailing PPAC members with suggestions for their possible consideration.
      It does seem that the PTO has had a long history of IT issues, along with some other agencies. I especially hope that security breaches of unpublished new patent application files can be fully prevented, since that would be by far the most serious national loss.

      1. 3.1.1

        “that would be by far the most serious national loss.”

        Respectfully disagree Paul.

        The most serious national loss (assuming you mean the U.S.) is how first SCOTUS — and then the majority of the CAFC judges — have crippled America’s formally world-leading patent system.

        While our very own Congress does nothing to stop it.

      2. 3.1.2

        Really? Please provide the link on the PTO site where there’s contact info for each of the PPAC members.

  4. 2

    OT, but important per prior entries on this blog, and per Gene’s blog, in response to the Two-Senator-Letter the Director of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts said their Committee on Court Administration and Case Management will look into case assignment policies and practices in the one-judge Waco Division of WDTX, which is claimed to now have roughly 25 percent of all U.S. filed patent suits.
    [I would think that would at least get the attention of the Chief Judge of WDTX?]

      1. 2.1.1

        I’m only presuming that most readers of this blog are interested in facts relevant to patent law and factual realities, in spite of too many comments here without any.


          In spite of comment like your immediate reply then (seeing as you added nothing and did not answer the direct question put to you)….


                Really? But all I did was use the actual name of your own designated expert that concluded you were an incredibly sloppy reader, writer, and thinker.

                Go figure.

                1. My poor poor poor pal.

                  You really just cannot help yourself, now can you, my pal?

                  I – in a very friendly way – provide a reply to clarify between counter and filter, and you only want to double down on a MISAIMED insult in relation to something that I have more than once clarified – that Dave Boundy’s emotion towards me is derived from the fact that I plainly got the better of him on a legal point (in relation to Void for Vagueness not being limited to criminal law), and that he simply acts poorly in the forum of social media as opposed to a court of law), and yet you want to ploy his comment completely out of context and directly to YOUR emotional rise on seeing a post provided by “anon.”

                  I continue to live rent free in your mind.

                2. Thee you go again — doubling down with both the mis-aimed “snowflake,” and also wanting to turn a factual instance into some sort of “belief” thing.

                  You do struggle with this reality thing, don’t you?

                3. … and again with the referring to yourself in the plural…?

                  (Or do you not ‘get’ the irony of your using that Tell along with the words “not even one” — even as you miss the meaning of my last reply?

    1. 2.2

      will look into case assignment policies and practices in the one-judge Waco Division of WDTX, which is claimed to now have roughly 25 percent of all U.S. filed patent suits.
      Good point. Why do all of these patentees believe that Judge Albright will give them their best shot of getting justice?

      Perhaps some of the answers can be related to the following observations?

      How frequently have we had debates on this blogs regarding damages or how damages are calculated? The answer is very rarely since few cases ever tried to conclusion that result in the plaintiff winning? Why is that?

      Maybe the judicial watchdogs should be investigating why so many applications being invalidated (particularly in places like NDCal and Delaware) on 12b6 motions (for failure to state a claim) when patents can only being invalidated on clear and convincing evidence but a 12b6 motion is prior to evidence being introduced? Why is the Federal Circuit allowing decades old not-specific-to-patents procedural law to be turned on its head?

      Maybe the answer to your question is that patent owners appreciate that: (i) Judge Albright is an experienced patent litigator (who represented both sides), (ii) believes that the standards set forth by the Supreme Court in Twombly/Iqbal applies to 12b6 motions, (iii) believes that a speedy trial is an important part of having justice served, and (iv) doesn’t automatically believe the patents are invalid (here’s looking at you NDCal).

      Your continual hand-wringing over Judge Albright is tiresome. We all know why patent owners flock to his court — they think they’ll have a better chance to prevail.

      There will ALWAYS be a most favored district court for patent owners. If WDTex gets shut down, the next most favored district court will pick up the slack. If that court gets shut down, the next most favored district court will become the favored court.

      That is the answer to “why are people going to WDTex?”

      The more important questions are what is Albright doing differently? and are they in accordance with the law?

      Is setting an aggressive trial schedule not in accordance with the law?
      Is having local patent rules not in accordance with the law?
      Is applying 12b6 in the manner it is supposed to be applied not in accordance with the law?

      The Federal Circuit, as I have noted on frequent occasion, has turned 12b6 into something it was never intended to be and is not in accordance with the law. The Federal Circuit has turned the mandamus process upside down. Instead of reviewing the lower court for clear abuse of discretion — they are nitpicking every factual finding made by Albright. This is from the US Department of Justice’s website on Mandamus:
      Mandamus is an extraordinary remedy, which should only be used in exceptional circumstances of peculiar emergency or public importance. LaBuy v. Howes Leather Co., 352 U.S. 249 (1957); United States v. McGarr, 461 F.2d 1 (7th Cir. 1972).
      Is that how the Federal Circuit treating Mandamus?

      The Federal Circuit is chock full of judges who haven’t met a patent that they weren’t willing to invalidate. Why aren’t you complaining about them?

      Like the answer to “why are people going to WDTex?”, the answer to that question is quite obvious. You are an anti-patent shill. You have no interest in having a robust patent system or debating people when they call you out on your frequent terrible takes. People like you are a blight to the patent system.

      1. 2.2.2

        In view of your continued paeans to the one judge court of Judge Albright in Waco Texas, and calling anyone who even simply mentions Fed. Cir., U.S. Senate, or other factual developments on that subject a “shill,” perhaps you should consider the dictionary definition of a “shill,” typically: “a person who publicizes or praises something or someone for reasons of self-interest, personal profit, or friendship or loyalty.” None of those applies to me. How about you, sir?


          Paul, Paul, Paul,

          In view of your continued paeans

          Paean: noun

          – a song of praise or triumph.

          – a thing that expresses enthusiastic praise.

          Minor call of B$ there, as while there is recognition (not “Song,” and any enthusiasm as more to do with the reason for enthusiasm as opposed to THE particular person or any notion of “one judge court,” – so the intimations of your words are false.

          Note in particular how Wt points out the relative scale and that there would be a “next up” if THIS particular judge were not around.

          As to any ‘praise,” it is hardly the type of DAMNING praise that you would insinuate, but instead is to be contrasted with the general anti-patent views out there (and yes, Paul, it is not lost that you avoided that point from Wt).

          Major call for B$: ““a person who publicizes or praises something or someone for reasons of self-interest, personal profit, or friendship or loyalty.” None of those applies to me.

          Simply not believable, as you are KNOWN as the top cheerleader of IPRs and have (long ago) renounced your patent bar membership, and hence are easily (and consistently) seen to be self-interested and personal profit driven by the Efficient Infringer positions.


            Anon, your last sentence in particular is another slander. I have no personal benefit or professional profits from any patent or legal matter of any kind. I do have prior extensive personal and professional experiences and observations of both sides of patent law, not just a practice limited to only representing patent applicants. I assume you have never represented patent suit defendants. That is, American companies that are not only getting patents of their own, but also need patent attorney representation from being sued or threatened with suit on invalid patents by PAEs counting on the huge legal costs for defendants in patent litigation to get big settlements. [As Congress was well are of in the bi-partisan passage of the AIA.]
            As I have noted more than once, Judge Albright’s practice of early Markmans is a commendable way to reduce some of the latter. But that does not excuse his repeated flaunting of Fed. Cir. mandamus decisions, unrealistically-early proposed trial dates, etc. Furthermore, the ultimate test of how good a trial judge is for patent owners will be the percentage of final decisions for patent owners that are not reversed by the Fed. Cir. on appeal [for a total waste of patent owner attorney costs].


              Another call of massive B$ – there is no “slander” Paul for my objective, on point and factual observations.


              As to…

              assume you have never represented patent suit defendants.

              While certainly not my main activity, your A S S umption is false.

              If you are not currently personally motivated or making money, then you may be retired, but it is more than abundantly clear that you harbor an Efficient Infringer bias, and you have zero credibility in trying to deny such bias.


              his repeated flaunting of Fed. Cir. mandamus decisions
              You mean the Federal Circuit repeated flouting of of how mandamus petitions are supposed to be handled. The Federal Circuit is the one that is flouting long-standing law — not Albright.

              percentage of final decisions for patent owners that are not reversed by the Fed. Cir. on appeal
              In case you haven’t noticed, there are been very few final decisions for patent owners these days. This is because the Federal Circuit’s mission to neuter the US Patent system over the past 10-15 years has been a resounding success (for efficient infringers).


          None of those applies to me.
          How terribly consistent of you. You cherry-pick one definition and exclaim how that doesn’t apply to you while ignoring the definitions that aptly apply to you. A shill, using a definition I found from Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary is “one who makes a sales pitch or serves as a promotor.” You’ve been promoting the anti-patent side for how long now?

          Also, I see you didn’t bother to address the substantive comments I made regarding Judge Albright’s courtroom. How terribly consistent of you.

          How about you, sir?
          I am an unabashed supporter of a strong US patent system. I wouldn’t pretend to be anything but.

Comments are closed.