On Thursday, June 18, 2009, President Barack Obama announced his plan to nominate David Kappos as the new Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Kappos is considered an IP-guru, and his nomination is widely supported by industry leaders because of reform that may be needed at the USPTO.
Kappos is currently vice president and assistant general counsel of intellectual property for IBM. He obtained a degree in electrical and computer engineering from the University of California-Davis in 1983 and a law degree from the University of California Berkeley in 1990. Kappos began working for IBM over 20 years ago as a Development Engineer and soon moved his way through the intellectual property department. He 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 for IBM Asia/Pacific, and other general counsel roles at IBM. Kappos’ currently manages IBM’s patent and trademark portfolios protecting and licensing intellectual property worldwide.
Kappos serves on the Board of Directors of the American Intellectual Property Law Association, the International Intellectual Property Society and is also Vice President of the Intellectual Property Owners Association. U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke stated that Kappos “will be a strong voice for patent reform and I have tasked him to reduce dramatically the unacceptably long time the office takes to review patent applications.” If confirmed by the senate, Kappos will replace John Doll and take over the responsibility of advancing technology and safeguarding inventions.
Kappos brings years of experience and knowledge of the IP sector to the USPTO. “Kappos’ background with a leading technology company ensures that he is aware of the need for reform of the patent process,” said Gigi Sohn, president of policy group Public Knowledge. “We also hope that Kappos will reevaluate the role that [the USPTO] has played in copyright issues, concentrating instead on fixing the patent issues that need immediate attention.”
“The talent, commitment and expertise these two fine individuals possess make them valued additions to our team as we work to keep our nation safe and put us on a path to prosperity,” Obama said, referring to Kappos and his pick for Department of Energy director of radioactive waste. “Their decision to serve their country is commendable, and I look forward to working with each of them in the months and years ahead.”
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