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David Kappos, USPTO: The busiest man in IP

With the 2012 US presidential election imminent, David Kappos may be nearing the end of his reign – but for now he is leading the US into a new era of patent law

Implementing some of the biggest changes to the US patent system in history

Since his appointment by President Barack Obama as USPTO director in August 2009, David Kappos has had perhaps more work to do than any other USPTO head in history. In addition to everyday operations, he is in charge of carrying out 37 separate requirements of the America Invents Act relating to 23 different provisions of the legislation. That includes 13 separate rulemakings, each of which must go through the standard notice and comment process. He is heading the first ever expansion of the USPTO with the opening of the Detroit satellite Office and plans to launch three more offices by 2014 in San Jose, California, Dallas, Texas and Denver Colorado. That means a larger workforce – and hopefully, a smaller backlog – than ever before.

"He has been one of the most popular USPTO directors, heralded for his commitment to transparency"

He has been one of the most popular USPTO directors, heralded for his commitment to transparency, initiatives such as overhauling the examiner count system and encouraging face-to-face interviews between applicants and examiners. But with the 2012 election just around the corner, the patent community may soon be faced with a new director leading the Office as the AIA takes hold. Republican presidential candidate and presumptive nominee Mitt Romney is trailing Obama in the polls by about 2% right now, but the election is still anyone's game. The Republican choices for president, secretary of commerce and USPTO director may have very different ideas about how to run the Office and use fees.

For now, Kappos remains head of arguably the most important patent and trade mark office in the world, and continues to lead the way in implementing some of the biggest changes to the US patent system in history. His next big task will be publishing proposed rules by this summer on a first-inventor-to-file system that has been largely applauded, but also raises many concerns for patent owners.

Further reading:

The USPTO heads west to Texas, California and Colorado, July 2012
How the USPTO’s Detroit patent office will work, June 2012
The rules are out: key provisions of new USPTO procedures, February 2012
Kappos promises patent community a new USPTO, September 2009

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