While we continue to wait for President Obama to nominate an Undersecretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property, otherwise known as the Director of the Patent Office, I figured it was about time to make another nomination, but who? From what I hear, the rumor is that President Obama has made his selection but the vetting processing is taking a lot longer than expected, and a lot longer than it should. How is it possible you can make a Supreme Court nomination within a matter of a few weeks, but the vetting process for PTO Director is taking many months? I don’t know I buy the rumors, but I suppose if you are going to have a tax vetting problem it is either going to be you didn’t pay taxes at all, took dubious deductions or made enough money to hire the best and brightest tax attorneys to come up with many legitimate uses of the many loopholes in the Tax Code. So if the rumors are true it has to be David Kappos of IBM. Nevertheless, with so much delay, and no reputable sources identifying “the candidate,” either this secret is being kept with Fort Knox like security, and far better than secrets having national security implications, or the rumors are wrong, or it is Kappos. Who knows? Not me. But what I do know is that President Obama should definitely have Alfred E. Neuman on his short list. A character like Al Neuman would be perfect because he wouldn’t (and couldn’t) get in the way of the progress being made by the quite able members of the PTO senior management team who are doing what is necessary to move the PTO forward. Amazing what can be accomplished without having the watchful eye (and meddling) of a political appointment. So, without further ado I place into nomination Alfred E. Neuman for PTO Director.
Alfred E. Neuman has a long and storied career, first appearing on the scene in 1954 on the cover of a popular publication, and then subsequently appearing within the pages of the text the following year. While his exact age is unknown, and some speculate that he may actually have appeared on the scene sometime in the 19th century, his advanced age does not appear to present any problems. Perhaps Neuman is a modern day Highlander (i.e., an immortal). Although there may only be one Neuman, thanks to the able services of a particularly savvy publicist, he appeared on the cover of some 500 magazines. This means Al Neuman has the longevity, name recognition and the media awareness necessary to be able to lead the Patent Office as it attempts to return to the good old days when patent applications were filed and patents were issued as a result thereof.
Repeatedly over the last 9 months I have suggested that the next PTO Director needs to have a particular gravitas, which is absolutely essential if there is any hope that Congress and the President will at all listen to the needs of the Patent Office and propose, approve and enact legislation that can actually help put the USPTO back on track. In the gravitas area, few would be more universally known to both Americans, as well as those in Congress and the White House, than Mr. Neuman. His close to “rock star status” should enable him to be easily recognized, and it is hard to imagine that any (or at least many) in Congress have not read the magazine he has so graciously fronted for so many years.
Additionally, Mr. Neuman is no stranger to politics, having run for President of the United States on numerous occasions. Since his first unsuccessful run for the White House in 1956, Neuman has been frequently inserted into national politics, mostly as a potential write-in suggestion and with his supporters using the slogan “You could do worse, and always have!” Notwithstanding, Neuman has more recently been compared in certain ways to President George W. Bush by the elite press, who seem to be intimately familiar with Neuman, which could suggest his nomination as PTO Director come with favorable news reporting that could help ensure speedy confirmation in the Senate.
Even President Obama has drawn comparisons with Neuman due to certain distinguishing characteristics they share. At one point during the 2008 Presidential Campaign, now President Obama and then Senator Obama stated: “It’s often been said that I share the politics of Alfred E. Smith and the ears of Alfred E. Neuman.” Whatever this means or suggests, it is undeniable that President Obama is familiar with Al Neuman. Given Obama’s familiarity with Neuman, the fact that many known to President Obama during his campaign have found government employment, and the fact that Neuman has yet to secure a government job under the Obama Administration could suggest that he is being saved for a truly important position. There is no doubt that the Director of the PTO is just such an important position.
Having said all this, I place the name of Alfred E. Neuman into nomination for the position of PTO Director. After all, we could do worse, and frequently have!
EDITORIAL NOTE (i.e., disclaimer and explanation):
Hopefully this article has made you laugh a bit, which was its intention. My intention is also to point out that given the encouraging initiatives that have been started by career employees of the PTO it might be a good idea to stand back and let them fix the Office and not be burdened by a political appointment. The last several political appointments have not been at all knowledgeable about patents, innovation or the Constitutional role played by the Patent Office. We do not need a politician leading the Patent Office, we need folks who care and who understand the system. The first rule President Obama should follow with respect to appointing a new PTO Director is this — do no harm. Given that Alfred E. Neuman is a fictional character there is no way he could do any harm. If Mr. Neuman is unavailable, perhaps the lead of the movie “Weekend at Bernie’s” could be a viable alternative.
Lets let the experts have a turn at running the Patent Office Mr. President. They seem to be turning the ship about already.