(Updated on November 8 to add comment from Todd
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
"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".