Deputy Commissioner for Patent Examination Policy Drew Hirshfeld Appointed as New Commissioner for Patents

Replaces retired Commissioner Margaret “Peggy” Focarino
July 30, 2015
Press Release 15-15

CONTACT: (Media Only)
Patrick Ross or Paul Fucito
(571) 272-8400 or patrick.ross@uspto.gov or paul.fucito@uspto.gov

Washington The U.S. Commerce Department’s United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) today announced that U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker has appointed Deputy Commissioner for Patent Examination Policy Drew Hirshfeld to be the new Commissioner for Patents effective immediately.

“Drew Hirshfeld brings a wealth of experience to his new post as the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s Commissioner for Patents,” Secretary Pritzker said. “As Deputy Commissioner and in his previous position as USPTO Chief of Staff, Drew has been a valuable resource for the U.S. Department of Commerce and our ‘Open for Business Agenda.’ In his new role, I know he will continue to serve the American people and our nation’s great innovators.”

In his senior leadership posts at the USPTO, Hirshfeld has played key roles in managing patent operations, policy, and quality. As the Deputy Commissioner for Patent Examination Policy since November 2011, Hirshfeld developed numerous patent examination guidance documents on topics such as patent subject matter eligibility and clarity of the prosecution record. Hirshfeld actively facilitated public dialog on these critical topics as a speaker throughout the United States, and through formal written comment periods. He has overseen the Office of Patent Legal Administration (OPLA); Office of Petitions; Office of the Manual of Patent Examining Procedure; Office of PCT Legal; and Office of Patent Quality Assurance. Hirshfeld also played a key role in the creation of the position of Deputy Commissioner for Patent Quality to help the USPTO focus on improving patent quality. Additionally, multiple provisions of the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act of 2011 were implemented under his guidance, including the provisions for First-Inventor-to-File, Preissuance Submissions, Inventor’s Oath/Declaration, and Supplemental Examination.

“Drew Hirshfeld has served in a variety of important roles at our agency, and through that service has obtained unique and fundamental insights into our operations and our mission,” said Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO Michelle K. Lee. “While overseeing our patent examination policy and engaging with the public, he has gained an invaluable understanding of the wants and needs of American innovators. All of us at the USPTO, and the American public at large, will benefit from his wisdom and experience in his new role as Commissioner.”

Prior to being named Deputy Commissioner, Hirshfeld served two years as the USPTO Chief of Staff, managing operations and intergovernmental communications for then-Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO David Kappos. He also served as a Supervisory Patent Examiner as well as a Group Director of Technology Center 2100, overseeing Computer Networking and Database workgroups. Hirshfeld began his career at the USPTO in 1994 as a patent examiner. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Vermont and a Juris Doctor from the Western New England College School of Law.

The Commissioner for Patents oversees all aspects of the USPTO’s patents organization, including administration of patent operations, examination policy, patent quality management, international patent cooperation, resources and planning, and budget administration. Furthermore, through the preservation, classification, and dissemination of patent information, the Commissioner promotes technological progress by providing would-be inventors with critical information. As such, the Commissioner plays a primary role in advancing the agency’s mission to promote American innovation.

Hirshfeld succeeds Margaret “Peggy” Focarino, who served at the USPTO for 38 years and retired in early July 2015. Deputy Commissioner for Patent Operations Andrew Faile has served as Acting Commissioner since Focarino’s departure.

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