There are a number of news stories of note since my last post.
The Senate confirmed David Kappos as Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the Patent and Trademark Office. He was sworn in August 13. At the time of his swearing in, Kappos announced several key intiatives that he plans to undertake to improve operations at the PTO.
First, he announced an intention to cut application pendency dramatically while maintaining high examination standards. Next, he intends to listen to the domestic patent community and minimize overseas travel. He also pledged to improve the PTO’s financial footing for FY2010 and beyond. He implied that significant fee adjustments will be necessary. He couched these comments in reference to improving examiner job security. He also pledged to review and revamp the examiner “count” system.
Next, IPO reports that Federal Circuit Judge Alvin Schall will take senior status in early October. This will give President Obama his first Federal Circuit vacancy. Judge Schall was appointed to the court by President Bush in 1992. Patently-O is reporting that several law professors may be considered for the opening, including Mark Lemley of Stanford, Arti Rai of Duke, and Beth Noveck of New York Law School. There is also considerable support for appointing an experienced district court judge to the Federal Circuit, something that’s never been done before.
Patently-O has collected 44 briefs that have been filed in the Bilski case.
Tafas v. Kappos
The Federal Circuit granted the stay of en banc proceedings (motion reported earlier here) in the PTO rules case until 60 days after confirmation of the new PTO Director. Kappos was confirmed by the Senate August 7. This means that the proceedings should be stayed until October 6. By that time, we should know if the new Kappos Administration at the PTO plans to pursue the case or drop the ill-advised rules package.