Next PTO Directors: The PTO has 200 years of inertia and set expectations. Today, the PTO is a billion-dollar enterprise and the PTO Director's first job is to manage that ship. However, the director should also have a visions and goals for the future of the PTO and the patent system. Along with Chief Judge Michel and a few other key players, the PTO director is seen as the leader of the US patent system. The vision of the next director will have a great impact on the potential for patent reform; international patent cooperation; and the role for industrial design protection. Part of Obama's overall agenda is to move toward an open and transparent government. The PTO has come a long way, but the new director and deputy should be on board with ways to increase the communication channels and the ability for third parties and competitors to monitor the patenting process. Many are calling for the next PTO director to have patent prosecution experience. I agree that such experience will be helpful – both in understanding the system and for credibility. However, being a career prosecutor does not necessarily coincide with having the vision and leadership necessary for the job. Lots of speculation on upcoming PTO Officials.
- But first: The National Academy of Science published a book suggesting guidelines for the "most critical" Science and Technology Appointments of the new administration. PTO appointments do not make the list.
- John Doll is expected to become the PTO director temporarily until a new director and deputy are appointed. At that point, he will most likely move back to his role as Commissioner of Patents.
- Several sources (perhaps stemming from the same core) have identified former PTO trademark examiner Shanna Winters as a potential successor to either Mr. Dudas or Ms. Peterlin. Ms. Winters played a key role in the passage of the properly maligned House Patent Reform Act of 2007. Her staff position in the House is necessarily shifting as the IP subcommittee is being abolished. Patent reform in the next Congress will be dealt with directly by the Judiciary Committee – led by Rep Conyers.
- Some are calling for Todd Dickinson to return to his former post. He recently took over as executive director of the AIPLA.
- Professors Rai, Lemley, Noveck, Lesseg (and the vast majority of other law professors) have been strong Obama supporters. Professor Rai was a classmate of Obama at Harvard Law School. She was Executive Editor of the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review while Obama led the Harvard Law Review.
- I would be fully behind the nomination of Kevin Noonan. (* Full Disclosure – Kevin is a partner at MBHB, my former employer and the primary Patently-O advertiser).
- I suspect that none of these folks will get the call.
- Notes: Joff Wild (qualities of PTO director); Gene Quinn (Nominating Paul Kamenski); Hal Wegner (“If you had a very good, honest broker that both sides could admire and respect, then common elements could be found in a solution.”)
Stanford IP Litigation Clearinghouse: Speaking of Mark Lemley – He and attorney Joshua Walker (who also knows Obama…) are leading an amazing new project titled the Stanford IP Litigation Clearinghouse. The free service tracks over 23,000 US District Court cases filed since 2000 and includes in depth real time information "that cannot be found elsewhere in the public domain." [Invitation to Launch]
Wii Infringing? Motiva has sued Nintendo in the Eastern District of Texas. The young superstar plaintiff's attorney Mark Lanier is representing the patentee. U.S. Patent 7,292,151. In his blog, Blaise Mouttet noted the potential that the Wii infringed back in 2007. [Link]