PatentTrademark

The Right Choice: IP Stakeholders Emphasize Practical Experience, Strong IP Advocacy in Next USPTO Head

The position of Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), as well as Deputy, is now vacant. Commissioner for Patents Drew Hirshfeld has been vested with the authority to act with the powers of the Under Secretary of Commerce for IP and Director of the USPTO, although he has not been given the title Acting Director. This is almost certainly due to the fact that no one in the federal government can hold a title of Acting head of an agency for more than 270 days. In our space, the position of Under Secretary and Director of the USPTO is a front-line, top-level position. In the greater political scheme, it is likely we will not have an appointee for many months. President Obama did not nominate David Kappos until June 18 and President Trump did not nominate Andrei Iancu until August 26. There are many capable people—all realistic, based on party affiliation—who should be considered by the Biden Administration for nomination as Under Secretary of Commerce for IP, but in my opinion several names stand out above everyone else based on their background, ties with the tech sector, and what appears to be a preference on the part of President Biden (at least so far) to appoint those with close ties to the Obama Administration and longstanding ties to the Democrat party.

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