The Intellectual Property Owners Association (IPO) on Wednesday urged Senate Judiciary Committee leaders to schedule a hearing soon on the confirmation of President Obama’s pick, David Kappos, for Patent and Trademark Office director. IPO said it is “critical for new management to be put in place as soon as possible” to address the many challenges currently “hindering effective processing of patent applications.” The letter said Kappos meets all of the qualifications IPO has recommended for the PTO position in letters to the administration. The PTO, which is funded through user fees and is faced with a lengthy patent application backlog, recently suspended overtime pay for patent examiners and earlier instituted a hiring freeze.
The group told Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy and ranking member Jeff Sessions that Kappos, an IBM executive, has an exceptional record in IP law and significant experience in industry as a manager. He has worked within IPO and other associations to improve IP practice and communications with the PTO. Kappos is in line behind Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, whose Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing begins next week. While the agency awaits its new leader, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke has appointed Nicholas Godici, a former PTO executive, to serve as a liaison between the PTO and Commerce.