Jon W. Dudas was born on July 5, 1968, in Springfield, Illinois. He received a bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of Illinois and a law degree from the University of Chicago. After practicing law with a firm in Chicago, he moved to Washington, D.C., to take a series of positions on the staff of the U.S. House of Representatives. His first position was counsel to the Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts and Intellectual Property, followed by positions with the full Judiciary Committee and the Office of the Speaker of the House.
In January 2002 Dudas became deputy director of the USPTO. Two and a half years later, President George W. Bush appointed him under secretary of commerce for intellectual property and director of the USPTO, and he took the oath of office on July 30, 2004.
One of Dudas’s first jobs was to complete the office’s move from Crystal City in Arlington, Virginia, to its new headquarters in neighboring Alexandria, which continued until 2005. The year 2005 also marked the first time in 14 years that no patent and trademark fees were diverted to unrelated government programs, although fee diversion would reappear later. By 2005 more than 85 percent of trademark applications were being filed electronically. The office continued to strive for more patent and trademark automation.
The USPTO began stationing intellectual property attachés overseas in 2004 to promote U.S. government IP policy internationally, including helping to secure high standards in international agreements and host-country laws and encourage effective IP protection and enforcement by U.S. trading partners for the benefit of U.S. stakeholders. The first attaché was stationed in China. The USPTO opened its Global Intellectual Property Academy in 2005 to train officials from other countries.
In 2007 Dudas hosted the 25th annual meeting of the heads of the Trilateral Patent Offices—the USPTO, European Patent Office, and Japan Patent Office—which was formed to facilitate cooperation on patent system improvements. At the 2007 meeting the heads of offices signed a memorandum of understanding on the harmonization of patent systems.
Also in 2007 the office adopted a new five-year strategic plan with goals of optimizing patent and trademark quality and timeliness and improving intellectual property protection and enforcement domestically and abroad. Dudas’s tenure saw significant growth in the office’s patent workload. Appeals filed per year from patent examiner rejections during the five-year period ending in 2009 were up sharply.
Dudas saw the Supreme Court begin to decide more intellectual property cases, particularly patent cases, a trend that would continue. In eBay Inc. v. MercExchange, L.L.C. (2005) the court ruled that injunctions were not automatically available upon a finding of patent infringement. In MedImmune, Inc. v. Genentech, Inc. (2007) the court decided licensees could challenge patents while continuing to pay royalties under their agreements. And in KSR International Co. v. Teleflex Inc. (2007) the court explored the tests for obviousness of patent claims. In copyright the USPTO assisted with the government position in 2005 in MGM Studios Inc. v. Grokster, Ltd., a Supreme Court suit involving infringement over peer-to-peer file sharing networks.
In a suit that ended in 2009, Tafas v. Dudas, the Federal Circuit decided the USPTO lacked authority to promulgate rules limiting the number of continuing patent applications and number of claims. In Wyeth v. Dudas (2009) the D.C. Circuit decided that the USPTO misinterpreted the statute on patent term extensions.
Dudas resigned as director on January 20, 2009, with the election of President Barack Obama. He joined a law firm in Washington and then served as president of FIRST, a nonprofit organization founded by inventor Dean Kamen to inspire a passion in students for science and technology. In 2014 he took an executive post at the University of Arizona.
Bloomberg BNA, Weekly Patent, Trademark & Copyright Journal (2004-09).
USPTO, Annual Performance and Accountability Reports (2004-09).