In what can only be classified as a vote of no confidence in current Acting Director John Doll, Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke has appointed former PTO Director Nicholas Godici to serve as a consultant to the PTO for a period of up to 180 days. Godici has been hired “to look at ways to strengthen the management structure of the USPTO and provide an up-to-date assessment of the challenges the office faces.”
Godici spent 33 years working at the PTO as an examiner, supervisory examiner, group director, and finally as Commissioner for Patents from 2000-2005. He was Acting Director of the PTO from January-December 2001. Since 2005 he has been an executive advisor at the law firm Birch, Stewart, Kolasch, Birch, LLP. He was one of the authors of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce report containing recommendations for reforming the PTO and the patent system in December 2008.
It is interesting to note that Godici left the PTO at about the same time that things began to really go south in terms of management and problems. Given the confirmation hearings in the Senate for Judge Sotomayor that begin next week, as well as several other big issues facing the Senate and its upcoming August recess, it is unlikely that the new PTO Director will be confirmed until September or later.
This appointment signals the recognition of the delay in installment of a new Director by the Obama Administration and acknowledgement that such a delay in new management would further harm the patent system and also negatively affect the economy. This seems to be a very good development.