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Laura Peter appointed USPTO deputy director

Michael Loney, New York

Peter was deputy general counsel of A10 Networks in Silicon Valley. Her background suggests she is "on the same wavelength" as the USPTO director, suggests one observer

(Updated on November 8 to add comment from Todd Dickinson)

Laura Peter has been named as deputy under secretary of commerce for intellectual property and deputy director of the USPTO, effective November 13, 2018.

Peter most recently held the position of deputy general counsel of A10 Networks in Silicon Valley and provided counsel on worldwide legal matters, including commercial transactions, IP, licenses, litigation, and regulatory compliance.

Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross commented: "She will be an asset to our administration as we look to increase reliability and balance in the intellectual property system, as well as provide more predictability so that businesses can grow and invest with confidence."

Peter has practiced IP law for over 20 years. She was previously vice-president and general counsel of Immersion Corporation, where she led all aspects of the company’s legal issues including its IP portfolio. She was also assistant general counsel and director of intellectual property at Foundry Networks, where she built the patent portfolio and led patent actions against large competitors. She began her career as a commercial and intellectual property litigator at Townsend, Townsend and Crew (now Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton).

Todd Dickinson, senior partner at Polsinelli and a former director of the USPTO, speaking at the IP Dealmakers Forum in New York on November 7, shed some light on the role of deputy director, which is nominated by the director.

"The question becomes: what role do you give them?" said Dickinson. "If you look at the org chart, going back almost 15 years ago, both the director and the deputy have the same box. So they decide among themselves who is going to do what. There are a couple of models. One model is the deputy runs the operations while the director does the policy. There seems to be a little bit of that now in what we see."

Dickinson was asked whether the new deputy has a philosophy that is likely to be consistent with the director’s.

"On the assumption that the director has a lot of leeway in making the choice, I certainly think so," said Dickinson. He noted that articles in which she has been quoted in the past "suggest they are on the same wavelength".


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