Director's Forum: A Blog from USPTO's Leadership
Wednesday May 13, 2015

Attend a Patent Public Advisory Committee Meeting

Blog by Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO Michelle K. Lee

Input from the public is invaluable to us so we can best serve the needs of our innovation community.  To this end, our Patent Public Advisory Committee (PPAC) plays an important role in advising us on public input regarding important USPTO matters. PPAC is a group from a cross-section of our stakeholders who engage with the public to share agency developments, collect feedback, and share it with us. It’s all in an effort to gather input on, and be as transparent as possible about, all our operations. The PPAC holds quarterly meetings, during which the committee receives updates from across the agency and takes deep dives into the operation of different business units on a rotating basis. As a former PPAC member, I can tell you that these meetings are an excellent way to stay up to date on many facets of the agency, and I encourage you to attend our upcoming PPAC meeting tomorrow, May 14, at our headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia, or to watch the livestream.

The PPAC was created by statute in the American Inventors Protection Act of 1999 and advises the USPTO on policies, goals, performance, budget, and user fees. The committee also prepares an annual report on these matters, which is published in the Official Gazette. Committee members consist of U.S. citizens chosen to represent the interests of diverse stakeholders, including independent inventors, private practitioners, corporate attorneys, and academics. Appointments to PPAC are made by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce based upon applications submitted by the public, and appointees are special government employees for their tenure. The PPAC is led by a chair and vice chair, and members sit on a variety of subcommittees to focus on different areas of the agency, for instance, on quality, international relations, and the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB). Subcommittee membership offers exposure into the intricacies of the agency’s operations and helps members foster relationships with USPTO leaders.

After tomorrow’s meeting, there will be two more PPAC meetings in 2015 that will take place on August 20 and November 19.

Before becoming a USPTO employee, I was fortunate to serve as a PPAC member. I found the experience to be quite rewarding, and the meetings to be very informative about the programs and operations at the USPTO.  Some of the topics on the agenda for tomorrow’s meeting include updates on the quality initiative, patent examination policy, next generation systems, legislation, and our international efforts.

Additionally, I encourage you to consider serving as a PPAC committee member; we accept applications annually in the fall. Watch for announcements regarding the next open application cycle. Through these experiences, you can make your voice heard, learn more about USPTO programs and operations that affect your business interests and at the same time, help the USPTO.

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