kappos-davidPresident Barack Obama has announced his intent to nominate David J. Kappos as Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

According to the press release:

Mr. Kappos is Vice President and Assistant General Counsel, Intellectual Property Law, for IBM Corporation. Based in Armonk, New York, Mr. Kappos directs IBM’s Intellectual Property Law function, providing legal counsel over all facets of protecting and licensing IBM’s intellectual property assets and leading IBM’s engagement of intellectual property law policy issues. In particular, Mr. Kappos is responsible for the management of IBM’s patent and trademark portfolios; protecting and licensing intellectual property (patents, copyrights, trademarks, know-how and technology) worldwide; directing intellectual property law operations relating to the research, services, consulting, computer systems, storage products, semiconductor and technology development, software, marketing and other groups, divisions, and entities within IBM. In addition, Mr. Kappos has responsibility for IP policy and coordination with IBM’s litigation and corporate development groups in matters relating to intellectual property. Mr. Kappos serves on the Board of Directors of the American Intellectual Property Law Association, the Intellectual Property Owners Association, and the International Intellectual Property Society. He is also the Vice President of the Intellectual Property Owners Association. He has held various previous leadership positions in intellectual property law associations in Asia and the U.S. He has spoken widely in Asia, Europe, and the U.S. on intellectual property topics. Mr. Kappos received his Bachelor of Science Degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of California Davis in 1983, and his law degree from the University of California Berkeley in 1990. He joined IBM in 1983 as a Development Engineer and has served as an Intellectual Property Law attorney in IBM’s Storage Division and Litigation group, as IP Law Counsel in IBM Software Group, as Assistant General Counsel in IBM Asia/Pacific, IBM Corporate Counsel and as Assistant General Counsel prior to his current position.

This is sure to be a blow to Gene Quinn, of IPWatchdog, who nominated Alfred E. Neuman for PTO Director.  Gene’s rationale:

A character like Al Neuman would be perfect because he wouldn’t (and couldn’t) get in the way of the progress being made by the quite able members of the PTO senior management team who are doing what is necessary to move the PTO forward.  Amazing what can be accomplished without having the watchful eye (and meddling) of a political appointment.

The Coalition for Patent Fairness (CPF) has already issued the its statement regarding the nomination of Kappos as Undersecretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office:

The PTO has an important role to play in fostering an economic environment that promotes American innovation and global competitiveness, spurs new product development and creates jobs here in the United States. As leading U.S. patent holders, we look forward to the opportunity to work with Mr. Kappos in helping the PTO fulfill that important responsibility. We support President Obama’s call for reforms to the US patent system that will spur innovation and job creation.

The IAM Blog thinks Kappos is good news for the USPTO and the wider IP community:

For my part, I think he will do an excellent job. He knows the issues; he has a strong IP background; he comes from an industry in which IP is hugely important; he knows all the major players; he has long management experience; and he thinks deeply about IP and its role in society. Frankly, I cannot think of anyone better to do the job. He is not perfect, but who is? President Obama has made a good choice.

Dennis Crouch at Patently-O is excited:

As someone who writes daily about US Patent Law, I am excited about the Kappos nomination because he is likely to open access to previously hidden data and information.  He will also work to create systems that work and measures that are meaningful.

I suspect that the biggest challenge for Mr. Kappos will be moving beyond the unique IBM perspective. Big Blue is an atypical patent owner in its internal systems, patenting volume, and licensing power. As I discussed earlier, it will be important for him to spend time understanding how the rest of the patent community operates.

Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) President and CEO Jim Greenwood gave Kappos a thumbs up:

We believe Mr. Kappos will bring a thoughtful perspective to the Department of Commerce and the USPTO.  He has a long history of industry experience, providing a point of view and insights we have always thought to be highly valuable in this position.  He also has a demonstrated track record of managing a large organization, and a true appreciation for industrial innovation.

As a prominent and respected member of the patent community, Mr. Kappos brings much goodwill to this position.  We look forward to working with him and his leadership team over the coming years.

The Patent Prospector questions the nomination given that IBM has submitted some questionable patent applications (citing its 2009/0119,148 application for “enhancing productivity,” which appears to claims claims using shorter hours to facilitate shorter meetings):

President Obama announced today nominees for two related governmental posts: Director, Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management, Department of Energy; and Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Warren F. “Pete” Miller, Jr., a part-time Professor at Texas A&M University, got the easier job. Managing the real radioactive waste went to David J. Kappos, who, as long-time corporate mook, has shaped IBM patent policy, publicly spouting horse hockey in the process. People have been known to rise to a position, garnering dignity. Let’s hope these boys are up to the job of containing the waste.

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