By Andrew Cohen
The U.S. Senate has confirmed David Kappos ’90 as the new Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
Nominated by President Barack Obama, Kappos will oversee an office that faces mounting criticism. The USPTO faces a backlog of more than 770,000 patent applications, long waiting periods for patent review, and information technology systems that are widely viewed as outdated.
“We are grateful to the Senate for its swift confirmation of David Kappos to lead the (USPTO),” U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said in a statement. “It’s no secret that the agency currently faces significant and persistent challenges, but David is the right person to meet them and carry out my top priority for the USPTO: dramatically reducing the unacceptably long time it takes to process patent applications.”
In his two decades since graduating from Berkeley Law, Kappos has held several posts at IBM, working closely with professionals in the biotech, life sciences, and high tech sectors. Most recently, as IBM’s vice president and assistant general counsel for intellectual property, he managed its patent and trademark portfolios and oversaw all facets of protecting and licensing its intellectual property worldwide.
After receiving his undergraduate degree in electrical and computer engineering from UC Davis in 1983, Kappos joined IBM as a development engineer. His other positions at the company included IP Law Counsel in IBM’s Software Group, assistant general counsel for IBM Asia/Pacific, and IBM Corporate Counsel.
Business Software Alliance President and CEO Robert Holleyman said in a press release that Kappos “possesses the deep experience and knowledge needed to tackle problems in the U.S. patent system, and with the help of a willing Congress, he will shepherd in a new era for the USPTO that will streamline its operations and foster U.S. innovation and economic growth.”
Recently, Kappos has served on the Board of Directors of the American Intellectual Property Law Association, the Intellectual Property Owners Association, and the International Intellectual Property Society. He was also vice president of the Intellectual Property Owners Association, and has held various leadership positions in IP law associations in both the U.S. and Asia.