Patent Policy Under David Kappos

Sister blog ChipLawBlog reports that IBM's David Kappos has been nominated to be the new Commissioner of the Patent and Trademark Office.  Several commentators reported about a month ago that he was being considered, including IPWatchdogDennis Crouch, and others. 

ChipLawBlog summarized some points Mr. Kappos made during his testimony on patent reform.  As he awaits Senate confirmation, it may be interesting to consider these additional points he made when he summarized IBM's patent strategy in an IPReview article published in February, 2007:

  • Patent applicants are responsible for the quality and clarity of their patent applications.
  • Patent applications should be available for public examination.
  • Patent ownership should be transparent and easily discernable.
  • Pure business methods without technical merit should not be patentable.

If Mr. Kappos helped to craft this strategy for IBM, it may be an indication of the patent policy he could strive to implement.

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Comments (1) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Samuel Palms.. - June 29, 2009 8:52 AM

It is great that the Senate will save the PTO. However, the Senate should require the PTO to reform its current practice. Currently, there is too many managers in the PTO. When I say managers it includes (directors/SPEs/TQAS/WQAS/Subject Matter Experts/SPRE/OPLA…..).

Here is the problem, most of them are GS-15 or higher, which is at least $130,000 in salary. All these positions do not generate revenue (they don’t examine applications in anyway). Furthermore, micromanagement only hinders those who actually generate revenues (examiners).

The PTO created a new TC2400 in 2008 to add more management instead of reducing it (unbelievable). If this continues the $80 million, will not save any layoffs. And, if the layoffs is by seniority, then the Examiner who actually generates the revenue will be fired first, while the managers who don’t generate revenue continue to hold the positions.

The Senate should require the following:
1) DEMOTE some managers to Primary Examiners. Have a peer review, a confidential survey of examiners the manager is supervising and ask them about the manager’s effectiveness. Demote the lower ranked managers to primary. Reason for surveying examiners is because (1) the have to deal with the manager on a daily basis and (2) to avoid politics/favoritism.

2) Require those not demoted to have production/examining function component. For example, spend 40 hrs in bi-week examining and the other 40 hrs doing other duties. So, atleast they generate partial revenue.

Here is an estimate:
A) Assume you demote 10 managers per TC (each TC has more than 100 managers).
B) 10 X $130,000 (minimum salary for a manager) = $1,300,000 per TC.
C) With 9 TCs the number comes out to a whopping $11,700,000. Keep in mind this is low ball estimate.

These are modest measures and none of these employees are fired. Unlike, a private corporation where managers would have layed off in the first round of layoffs. It is nice to have management positions, but it is even nicer to have jobs.

References:
http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/pac/index.html
http://apps.opm.gov/SSR/tables/index.cfm?action=main TYPE IN 0576

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