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Thursday May 12, 2016

Patent Trial and Appeal Board Leadership and Accomplishments

Guest blog by Russ Slifer, Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director of the USPTO

Last week was Public Service Recognition Week, a time for Americans everywhere to reflect on the value of public service and the exceptional, often unheralded work government employees do for their fellow citizens. At the USPTO, we are blessed with many such employees whose hard work is making a positive difference for innovators, entrepreneurs, and our nation’s economy—which relies more than ever on the power of intellectual property. Recognizing the service of such employees is something we should do not just once a year, but all year round.

I want to single out several individuals whose leadership has been truly exceptional and merits the thanks of our agency. For the past 10 months, Nate Kelley served as acting Chief Judge of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board at a critical time in the Board’s history. Just three and a half years after its creation under the America Invents Act, (AIA) the Board needed a skilled leader to navigate management challenges and ensure execution of important post-grant proceedings. Nate was a wonderful leader of the Board during this time and I am excited that he will return to his previous position as Deputy General Counsel for IP Law and Solicitor. The USPTO and the American people are lucky to have such a skilled jurist serving to improve our intellectual property system.

Under Nate’s leadership, the Board reduced ex parte appeals by 18%, implemented a change to AIA trial practice under which patent owners can now submit new testimonial evidence, and significantly increased the rate at which precedential opinions are issued while meeting all AIA statutory deadlines.

Nate’s accomplishments would not have been possible without a strong team at the Board and at the Solicitor’s Office. A critical member of this team was Tom Krause, who as acting Solicitor played a leading role in developing the USPTO’s position in over five Supreme Court cases. One of his most significant accomplishments was spearheading the team in the Shammas case, in which the appellate court agreed with the USPTO’s position that plaintiffs are responsible for the USPTO’s expenses, including USPTO attorney time.

Thanks to the great work of both Nate and Tom, newly selected Chief Judge David Ruschke will be taking over the helm of a Patent Trial and Appeal Board that is stronger than ever, and will now have an outstanding, permanent Deputy Chief Judge in Scott Boalick—a vice chief who has been acting deputy for some time now. Scott’s dedication to the Board will be a huge asset to Chief Judge Ruschke and the Board as they continue their vital mission of effectively and efficiently resolving patent validity disputes while providing timely, low-cost alternatives to district court litigation.

Please join me in congratulating Nate Kelley, Tom Krause, and Scott Boalick on a job well done, and in welcoming the new Chief Judge of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board, David Ruschke, to the “Innovation Agency.”


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