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Tuesday Sep 29, 2020

Fall 2020 brings exciting changes to the Patents organization

Blog by Andrei Iancu, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO, and Drew Hirshfeld, Commissioner for Patents

Commissioner and Deputy Commissioners for PatentsCommissioner for Patents Drew Hirshfeld, and Deputy Commissioners Bob Bahr, Robin Evans, Andy Faile, Valencia Martin Wallace, and Rick Seidel.

It has been our privilege to lead a continuous effort that empowers “America’s innovation agency” to better meet the demands of a rapidly changing world. Improved collaboration is critical to that effort, particularly within our Patents organization, which is why we recently reorganized our senior Patents management team. Among the benefits of the new, improved management structure is a work culture that encourages, debates, and embraces new ideas—ideas that will allow us to more nimbly serve our stakeholders and employees.   

The primary objective of the reorganization was to integrate examination and non-examination groups across Patents. Traditionally, these groups have been in five separate reporting chains, but, as the organization has grown, this structure has resulted in one of the reporting chains in Patents having more than 9,000 of the approximately 10,000 Patents employees. This integration of examining and non-examining functions helps accomplish several goals, including: 1) fostering improved teamwork and the sharing of diverse perspectives, 2) facilitating cross-training of the management staff, 3) providing enhanced developmental opportunities, and 4) better balancing the number of employees within the deputy commissioners’ reporting chains.

An important part of the reorganization includes the recent selection of Robin Evans to serve as a Deputy Commissioner. Prior to her selection, Robin was the Acting Associate Commissioner for Patent Quality and had prior experience serving as the Director of Technology Center 2800, the interim Director of the Rocky Mountain Regional Office in Denver, and the first regional manager of the Elijah J. McCoy Regional Office in Detroit. Robin brings a wealth of experience to the job and is a fantastic addition to the current deputy commissioner team that also includes Bob Bahr, Andy Faile, Valencia Martin Wallace, and Rick Seidel.

As you can see on the organizational charts before and after the reorganization, deputy commissioners will no longer have unique titles. We have not, however, diminished any of their responsibilities. Rather, the broader and shared responsibilities of each deputy commissioner enable us to be more effective as a team. For example, while there is no longer a deputy commissioner with the title “Deputy Commissioner for Patent Quality,” the responsibility for ensuring patent quality is shared by all, enabling a more expansive focus on patent quality that is directly integrated with those having oversight of patent examiners.

We are confident these changes will improve our collaborative abilities and enhance the operations of the senior Patents management team. We look forward to announcing the assistant commissioners and the assignment of technology centers to deputy commissioners in the coming weeks. Above all, we remain committed, through these improvements and others, to providing the best customer service possible and to fostering ever greater American innovation, competitiveness, and economic growth.

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