Multiple sources have reported that David Kappos, undersecretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, will step down at the beginning of the year. Commentary can be found at the Wall Street Journal and the National Journal.
There have been significant changes at the USPTO during his tenure, not the least of which was the passage of the America Invents Act. The debate over the impact on university technology transfer, both before and after passage, was among the most active topics in the field the past thirty years, including initial resistance, and eventual embrace by key AUTM members. With some provisions yet to be implemented, seminars and roundtables on the subject have kept consultants gainfully employed for the past year, as various institutions attempt to define what the changes mean for their own operations.
Another change is the increase in efficiency at the USPTO with respect to processing applications. The office has not only absorbed a 5% increase in the rate of application, but reduced its backlog volume by 20%. Mr. Kappos has gone on record at several different venues, including the AUTM annual meeting, repeating his goal of cutting the average processing time for an application from over three years to under a year and a half.
Teresa Stanek Rea, the current deputy director, is expected to step in when the change is made formal. A press release has not yet been posted on the USPTO site.