Well, it looks like Margaret Peterlin, Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), has announced that she will be leaving the USPTO in August with plans to pursue employment opportunities in the private sector.  It was probably going to happen some time after January 20th of next year anyway.

Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez appointed Margaret J.A. Peterlin, formerly a national security House aide, to serve as Deputy Under Secretary.  Before joining the USPTO, Ms. Peterlin was Counsel for Legal Policy and National Security Adviser for the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, J. Dennis Hastert.

Earlier, patent antagonist Greg Aharonian complained that the appointment of Ms. Peterlin to her position was unlawful because she does not have “a professional background and experience in patent or trademark law” as is apparently required under 35 U.S.C. § 3(b).

After a short run in the courts, U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia dismissed a lawsuit against the Secretary of Commerce for hiring an allegedly incompetent person to office. See Gregory Aharonian, et al. v. Carlos Gutierrez, Secretary of Commerce (07-1224) .  See the complaint at: http://www.bustpatents.com/peterlin.pdf.

The U.S. District Judge held:

A claim alleging violation of the standard in 35 U.S.C. § 3(b) is unreviewable under the [Administrative Procedure Act], however, because 35 U.S.C. § 3(b) lacks standards that a court could meaningfully use in evaluating this type of high-level personnel decision. Because the only statutory standard is vague and highly subjective, the decision whom to appoint Deputy Director must be considered “committed to agency discretion by law.”

This kind of case makes you wonder why we have a rule that can’t be enforced because it’s too vague.  I’m sure we’ll see more political appointees leaving their posts as January nears.

See more:

Can You Sue to Remove a Political Appointee Who Doesn’t Meet the Job Description?
When is a Patent Office Appointee Qualified? Judge Says Always.

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  1. John Whealan is next but not for this reason.

    I think he leaves to lobby for reform and to limit continuations.

  2. This is old news. Whealan’s been gone for 2 months.


  3. So, it seems that the two leading criteria for BushAdministration appointments are: (1) incompetence/lack of proper qualifications; and (2) political loyalty.

  4. The patent office is something worse than incompetent. I have notced a number of recent patents issued on designs that have been common in the machine tool industry in some cases for 100 years. I have had a design that was sold nationaly and internationaly for a number of years copied and patented by a company that openly admitted doing so. I have today seen a patent issued in Jan. 2008 that is a design that is clearly cover by other patents and hase been sold by more than one company for over 10 years. The patent office needs a serious retrofit