Swearing-In Ceremony for New Administrative Patent Judges

Under Secretary of Commerce for IP and Director of the USPTO David J. Kappos

January 25, 2011

Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences

Welcoming Remarks

Good morning everybody - and thanks, Kurt, for that kind introduction. I want to thank Chief Judge Randall Rader, of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit for taking time out of his schedule to join us today. And I of course want to thank Chief Administrative Patent Judge James Smith for helping put together today's ceremony. Despite having just flown back from an AIPLA mid-winter conference in Las Vegas this morning, his unrelenting dedication to the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences again proves to be the type of leadership the USPTO is committed to fostering when dealing with the broad range of matters confronting the Board.

Arguably, his urgent fleeing of sin city perhaps proves that, "What Happens in Vegas," pales in comparison to "What is happening in Alexandria," today! And that, simply put, is because this ceremony represents an historic occasion for the nation's innovation agency.

Since the enactment of the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act, we have been working diligently toward rebuilding our intellectual property system from the ground up-launching transformative initiatives to improve the way Americans innovate, and the way the USPTO handles those innovations. And today's expansion of the Board, and inauguration of 14 new administrative jurists, will help the Office aggressively tackle the backlog of cases that often tie up innovators' technological breakthroughs, and ultimately inhibit job growth.

But the AIA is not just strengthening the Board in numbers. The AIA also establishes a new in-house review process for challenging granted patents-a process that is much faster and less expensive than litigation-and a process that the judges we swear in today will be instrumental in shaping. For both our post-grant review process and our inter partes review process, we're building state of the art procedures that will balance the interests of third party challengers and patent owners alike-and all within a 12-month time frame.

So the AIA truly marks a turning point in the way the United States Patent and Trademark Office manages patent challenges. With the resources and mandates detailed under the authority of the law, we'll be able to resolve disputes about patent rights earlier, more efficiently, and at lower cost. And in turn, we will add greater certainty to-and cultivate greater confidence in-the American patent system.

But we're not stopping there.

For the first time the USPTO has the ability to spend all of its fee collections. This is allowing the Office to build a dynamic IT infrastructure, and hire the people we need to tackle our backlogs-including the backlog of unexamined patent applications, as well as the backlog you face at the board-the backlog of appeals awaiting decision.

We have also successfully launched an examination acceleration program that is allowing patent applications to be reviewed in 12 months, and offers small businesses a discount on this service. We have already started putting out office actions and even issuing patents under the new Track I program, enabling new technologies, new industries and new markets to blossom quicker than ever before.

Since the America Invents Act creates the world's first and only "21st Century" Patent System, we are also pursuing the substantive harmonization of patent laws throughout the world that will improve the ability for inventors to tap into markets globally. And, let me just add that through the hard work of the USPTO team, we have already implemented eight provisions of this huge piece of federal legislation-all on time-and we are on-course in getting draft rules out for more of the legislation by the end of the month.

And the AIA is all the more important in uncertain times like this because it allows us to usher new technologies to the marketplace faster. It's equipping businesses with the tools they need to grow their enterprises. It's driving pendency rates down. It's pushed the backlog from over 750,000 to now about 660,000. And it's demonstrating that even in an era of partisan divide, government can work and produce real results for our country.

And when we are done, our new patent laws will streamline processes that optimize patent quality and minimize barriers to R&D and growth that have plagued small and large businesses in this economic climate, for far too long. So it really is great to be here, now, helping Americans make the most of the America Invents Act. But it's an even greater honor to do so alongside this incredible class of new judges.

Some of you come from the Department of Justice and the International Trade Commission-others from the most prestigious IP legal practices in our country. But all of you arrive today as public servants, ready to animate the AIA with the balance, stability, judgment and transparency-that is elemental to strong business growth. The work won't be easy, and navigating the evolving patent terrain in light of our new laws will serve up its fair share of challenges. But through judicious rulemaking, thoughtful guidelines, and policy-based interpretations of the new laws, you all will play a vital role in generating value from creativity-and helping move invention to the marketplace.

So thank you for your willingness to serve. Thank you for doing your part in building the world's first and only 21st Century Patent and Trademark Office. And thank you for joining our team at the USPTO.