He will be part of Cravath’s corporate department and will handle both corporate and IP matters. Notably, although Cravath’s litigation practice includes IP litigation, the firm does not have a separate IP department.
His achievements at the USPTO include overseeing the implementation of the America Invents Act (AIA) and reducing the patent backlog by 20%, despite a 5% annual increase in applications.
Before joining the USPTO, Kappos was vice president and assistant general counsel for intellectual property for IBM, the owner of the most patents in the world. He joined IBM in 1983 as a development engineer and spent more than 25 years at the company.
Former USPTO deputy director Teresa Stanek Rea has taken over as the Office’s acting director. Speaking at AIPLA’s Mid-Winter Institute conference in Tampa on Saturday, Rea described Kappos as a “true visionary” who made “dramatic changes” to the patent office.
In an interview with Managing IP in November 2012, Judge Paul Michel, retired chief judge of the Federal Circuit, described Kappos as "the strongest USPTO leader we have had in at least a generation".
In a statement, Kappos said he was “thrilled” to be joining Cravath.
“I was fortunate to work closely with Cravath on many intellectual property matters over the years as a client at IBM, and I developed an extremely high regard for the firm's unique ability to achieve the best possible results handling the most complex and important corporate and contested IP issues,” said Kappos.
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