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Director David Kappos to Leave USPTO

David Kappos (A. Kotok)

David Kappos (A. Kotok)

The director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office David Kappos announced in an e-mail yesterday to USPTO staff that he plans to leave the agency by the end of January 2013. The news was reported late yesterday by the industry blog, IP Watchdog and confirmed independently by sources at USPTO.

Kappos became USPTO director in August 2009, joining the agency from IBM where he served as the company’s assistant counsel for intellectual property. During his tenure, Congress passed the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act, signed into law in September 2011, that changed the U.S. patent ownership system from first-to-invent to first-to-file, bringing U.S. patents in line with most other industrialized countries. Many of the law’s provisions went into effect in September 2012, although first-to-file rules take effect in March 2013.

Also during his tenure, Kappos expanded USPTO’s presence outside its Alexandria, Virginia headquarters near Washington, D.C. USPTO opened a field office in Detroit, Michigan in July 2012, with other offices planned for Denver, Colorado, Silicon Valley in California, and Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas. In October, the agency said it will staff an office at the new Cornell University technology campus in New York City.

In addition, USPTO has been faced with increasing numbers of applications during Kappos’s tenure, up from nearly 483,000 in 2009 to more than 535,000 in 2011. During this time, the number of patents granted also rose from 192,000 in 2009 to 247,700 in 2011. The backlog of unexamined applications, however, dropped from more than 700,000 when Kappos took office to some 608,000 today.

USPTO is part of the Department of Commerce, and in his position, Kappos serves as Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property.

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