David J. Kappos has announced that he will depart as the Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office at the end of January. His replacement has not been announced. Kappos has led the PTO since 2009 and filled a leadership vacuum at the PTO dating from the last few years of the last administration. He previously ran the patent department at IBM, which receives more patents than any other entity. Kappos has been more effective than many of his predecessors because, in this author’s opinion, he actually knows about patents and believes in the patent system. He holds a special place in our affection because he was willing to actually issue patents and because he removed some of the structural incentives put in place by his predecessors inducing examiners to deny patent applications, no matter how deserving the application. His record is mixed, however, because of his support of the anti-inventor ‘America Invents Act.’
Hopefully the administration will appoint a replacement who also knows about patents and believes in the patent system.
— Robert Yarbrough, Esq.