U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke yesterday announced the appointment of former USPTO official and long-time patent professional Nicholas P. Godici as a special advisor to the USPTO. On announcing the return of Godici, Secretary Locke said: “I’m counting on Nick to use his decades of experience to help us strengthen the management of the USPTO and identify the areas most in need of attention by the new director.” Godici will serve as a consultant for a period of up to 180 days, although I think Locke and Obama would do well to find a permanent position for Godici even after Davind Kappos, President Obama’s nominee for PTO Director, takes control.
Godici worked at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for 33 years, beginning his career as a patent examiner and eventually rising through the ranks to become Commissioner for Patents from 2000-2005. Shortly after Jon Dudas became Director of the Patent Office, Godici left the Patent Office and entered private practice. There are many rumors surrounding his leaving the Patent Office, and repeatedly I have heard from many long time industry insiders that Godici leaving the Patent Office is what resulted in the Office going astray and becoming misguided with respect to the vitally important role the USPTO plays with respect to fostering and promoting innovation and assisting the US economy remain technologically competitive. I learned recently about Godici’s imminent return to the PTO, and those I have talked to on deep background all to a person are extremely excited that Godici is returning to the Office. It would seem that the overwhelming consensus of those in the know is that this is a major and extremely positive development. It also signals that the Obama Administration is serious about correcting the course the Patent Office is on, which is great news indeed.
As Commissioner for Patents, Godici was responsible for managing all aspects of the patent business organization, and his wealth of hands-on experience and depth of managerial experience can only be viewed as a positive development. I am told that he is extremely well respected by those in senior management positions at the USPTO, and he is also extremely well respected by the front line managers and supervisors in the various Technology Centers. This being the case, the return of Godici should have an enormously positive impact on morale, and will hopefully lead to a stronger working relationship with those within the Office.
From January-December 2001, Godici also served as the Acting Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Acting Director of the USPTO. He represented the United States in several international negotiations involving intellectual property issues and agreements with other countries. Given his experience as the Commissioner for Patents and nearly 1 year as Acting Director this should make the transition from the private sector into government employment much easier for David Kappos, President Obama’s nominee for Director of the PTO. I personally do not expect Kappos to be confirmed until the Fall at the earliest, particularly given the Sotomayor hearings, a contentious health care debate and cap and trade legislation that is a high Obama priority but one that will face stiff opposition in the Senate. Thus, getting someone with Godici’s experience to return to the PTO during the interim shows a depth of understanding of the patent crisis by the White House, and willingness to start to immediately find a solution even prior to Kappos taking control.
Since leaving government employment in 2005, Godici has served as an executive advisor with the intellectual property law firm Birch, Stewart, Kolasch and Birch, where he specializes in intellectual property consulting. Godici received his bachelor’s degree in engineering mechanics in from Penn State University and his certificate of advanced public management from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University.