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Patrick L.
Democrat VT

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  • Tribute to David Kappos

    by Senator Patrick J. Leahy

    Posted on 2013-01-31

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    LEAHY. Madam President, I want to congratulate David Kappos, whose last day as the Director of the Patent and Trademark Office, PTO, is today. Director Kappos's leadership of the PTO has been applauded by all segments of the intellectual property, IP, community. This is no easy feat. The IP community is as diverse as our economy, and the community's views on IP law are hardly uniform.

    I have known Director Kappos since well before he entered government service, and I was particularly pleased to chair his confirmation hearing in July 2009. Director Kappos was well suited to understand both how to manage a $2 billion office and meet the needs of inventors and innovators. He began his career as an engineer and worked in the IP law department of IBM in nearly all of its business units before finally managing all of IBM's IP law interests as vice president and assistant general counsel. IBM is a large employer in Vermont and one of the reasons that Vermont receives more patents per capita than any other State.

    Anyone who has met Director Kappos cannot help but be taken with his integrity and his clear passion for an intellectual property system that rewards inventors and creators. Those leadership qualities have motivated the PTO staff, which has reduced the time it takes to receive responses from the patent office on applications and, according to most experts, simultaneously improved the quality of patents that the PTO issues.

    Director Kappos played an instrumental role in the development and passage of the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act--one of the few bipartisan, job-creating bills of the 112th Congress. Soon after being confirmed as Director in August 2009, he sat down to work with me and a bipartisan, bicameral group of Members to work out a consensus on patent reform legislation.

    Director Kappos's credibility within the patent community and his leadership was critical in bringing together the different interests to support the changes in the America Invents Act that will speed the time for high quality patents to issue from the PTO while providing more efficient methods for challenging low quality patents. Since enactment, Director Kappos and his team have set the PTO on course to implement the key provisions of the act, which will improve the patent system for decades.

    The America Invents Act was the highest profile law on which I worked with Director Kappos, but it was not the only one. Early in his tenure, the PTO recommended legislation that ultimately became the Trademark Technical Correction Act of 2010 and the Patent Law Treaties Implementation Act of 2012.

    Director Kappos's full title is Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. This is one of the longest titles in government and underscores the vast responsibility he has had, and which is particularly important because IP is such a key driver of our economy.

    I am saddened that Director Kappos has decided to step down but heartened by how he has energized the PTO. The President and the Commerce Department have lost a valuable member of their economic team. I wish Dave all the best.


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