PTO Director Kappos Gets Fond Farewell; Leahy Lauds Director in Congressional Record

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Patent and Trademark Office Director David J. Kappos was honored Jan. 31 at a farewell party at the agency's headquarters in Alexandria, Va., in speeches by his boss, Deputy Secretary of Commerce Rebecca M. Blank, and his ally in search of international harmonization of patent laws, Randall R. Rader, chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, among others.

Kappos leaves the agency after 3.5 years of service, with generally high marks for repairing relationships with the patent community, increasing cooperation between management and the PTO's unions, and making a dent in the backlogs of unexamined patent applications and appeals that were choking inventors' ability to bring new products and services to market.

The most laudatory comments came from his staff, particularly when Commissioner for Patents Margaret A. Focarino and Commissioner for Trademarks Deborah Cohn presented a “faux” patent and trademark, respectively, citing Kappos's accomplishments in his brief tenure.

Though unable to attend, Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), who relied on Kappos in getting consensus to pass the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act, sent an emissary who read passages from a “Tribute to David Kappos” that Leahy entered into the Congressional Record.

“Director Kappos's credibility within the patent community and his leadership was critical in bringing together the different interests to support the changes in the America Invents Act,” Leahy said.

“I am saddened that Director Kappos has decided to step down but heartened by how he has energized the PTO,” according to the tribute. “The President and the Commerce Department have lost a valuable member of their economic team. I wish Dave all the best.”

The next step in Kappos's career is still unknown (15 PTD, 1/23/13).

As of Feb. 2, Deputy Director Teresa Stanek Rea will serve as acting director of the PTO. Her first act as director will take place in Tampa, Fla., as she is scheduled to speak at 9 a.m. at the mid-winter meeting of the American Intellectual Property Law Association.

By Tony Dutra