On February 16, 2012, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) announced the establishment of the Thomas Alva Edison Visiting Professionals Program designed to enlist the services of leaders in academia and the intellectual property (IP) industry who can devote up to six months of service to the agency on a full time basis. The first Edison Professional, Jay Thomas, a tenured member of the Georgetown University law faculty, previously served at the USPTO as an instructor at the Patent Academy.
“The Edison Visiting Professional Program comes at a crucial time for the USPTO as we navigate the early stages of implementing the sweeping reforms of the American Invents Act,” said Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO, David Kappos. “We would certainly benefit from the talent and skill of professionals of this caliber from colleges, universities and the private sector to achieve the full potential of this unique and historic opportunity.”
“I am honored to undertake the inaugural Edison visitorship,” Thomas said. “The enthusiasm, leadership, and professionalism of USPTO management have truly motivated me and I am grateful for the opportunity to contribute to the crucial work of this agency.”
Since 1999, Jay Thomas has served as a visiting scholar at the Congressional Research Service. In that capacity he assisted members of Congress and their staff during the enactment of such legislation as the American Inventors Protection Act and the America Invents Act. Thomas previously clerked for Chief Judge Helen Nies of the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. He has been a member of the faculties of Cornell, George Washington University, and the University of Tokyo, and also served as a visiting scholar at the Max Planck Institute in Munich, Germany, and the Institute of Intellectual Property in Tokyo, Japan. Thomas is the author or co-author of numerous articles and six books on intellectual property law, including a leading patents casebook co-authored with Professor Martin Adelman and Chief Judge Randall Rader of the Federal Circuit. He holds a B.S. from Carnegie Mellon in Computer Engineering, a J.D. magna cum laude from the University of Michigan, and an LL.M. with highest honors from George Washington University.
Should be interesting to see how this program develops, what sort of projects will be assigned, and how the person in this job interacts with the PTO’s management and the Patent Public Advisory Committee (PPAC).