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Senate Committee Confirms Kappos as Director of USPTO

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This article was originally published on Aug. 10.

The US Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously voted late last week to confirm David Kappos as the new Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the US Patent and Trademark Office.

President Barack Obama nominated Kappos for the position in June.

Kappos most recently served as vice president and general counsel, intellectual property law, for IBM. He joined the company in 1983 as a development engineer and previously served as an intellectual property law attorney in IBM's storage division and litigation group; IP law counsel in IBM's software group; assistant general counsel in IBM Asia/Pacific; and assistant general counsel.

Kappos also serves on the board of directors of the American Intellectual Property Law Association; the Intellectual Property Owners Association (for which he also serves as vice president); and the International Intellectual Property Society. He received a law degree from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1990; and a BS in electrical and computer engineering from UC-Davis in 1983.

In a statement, US Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said that the department was "grateful to the Senate for its swift confirmation of David Kappos to lead the USPTO. It's no secret that the agency currently faces significant and persistent challenges, but David is the right person to meet them and carry out my top priority for the USPTO — dramatically reducing the unacceptably long time it takes to process patent applications."

Kappos' nomination has been generally well received by those in the biotechnology, university, and intellectual property communities. In a statement, Todd Dickinson, executive director of AIPLA, said that the organization "knows as well as anyone how well-suited Dave Kappos is to take on" the challenges of reforming patent law and reducing the patent application backlog. "Our experience with him as a long-time AIPLA member and leader gives us confidence that he will rise to meet them," Dickinson added.

Several other industry and IP organizations had also previously issued statements in June applauding Kappos' nomination. Among them was the Biotechnology Industry Organization, which said that Kappos would bring "a thoughtful perspective to the Department of Commerce and the USPTO. He has a long history of industry experience, providing a point of view and insights we have always thought to be highly valuable in this position. He also has a demonstrated track record of managing a large organization, and a true appreciation for industrial innovation.

"As a prominent and respected member of the patent community, Mr. Kappos brings much goodwill to this position," BIO added. "We look forward to working with him and his leadership team over the coming years."

Kappos will succeed John Doll, who had served as interim director of the USPTO since former director Jon Dudas departed on January 20 when the Obama administration took over.

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