In January 2013, Kappos will step down as Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office. You may find more information on patentlyo and ipwatchdog.
Back before Kappos was the Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, it seems as if everyone was complaining that the Patent Office was taking too long to examine patent applications and get them through the pipeline. Some also complained that many unworthy inventions were granted patent protection. The patent that comes to mind is the patent directed to a method of swinging on a swing.
Director Kappos, previously, a user of the patent system knew the Patent Office well. He was vice president and assistant general counsel for IBM, one of the largest patent filers in the United States. With his knowledge of the patent system as a user, he has done a superb job of guiding the United States Patent and Trademark Office by decreasing patent pendency, increasing patent quality and implementing the America Invents Act which is a major shift in the way that we approach patent protection.
As a patent attorney, I have seen a tremendous improvement in the Patent Office’s efficiency and it shows in the reduction of the patent backlog.
With Director Kappos in charge, a shift began to occur in the patent allowance rates. Examiners were not rejecting patent applications for the sake of lowering the patent pendency rate. We saw good inventions mature into patents and bad ones fall by the wayside. Of course, you still saw some inventions that you felt deserved patent protection get rejected. However, this was the exception, and no longer the rule.
I cannot speak for all users of the patent system, but in my opinion, Kappos has done a great job of leading the United States Patent and Trademark Office. We now look forward to the new director of the USPTO, who is yet to be appointed. I hope that he or she will have the personal knowledge of how the USPTO and the patent system works which Kappos possessed.
I invite you to contact me with your patent questions at (949) 433-0900 or [email protected]. Please feel free to forward this article to your friends. As an Orange County Patent Attorney, I serve Orange County, Irvine, Los Angeles, San Diego and surrounding cities.