The last such swearing in ceremony occurred on January 25, 2012, when 10 APJs were sworn in. Thus over the last 5 weeks the Patent Office has added 19 new Administrative Patent Judges, but the Office is not done. The USPTO is currently in the process of doubling the size of the Board by the end of fiscal year 2012, so expect more new appointments soon! In fact, the USPTO is advertising for APJs for the Mechanical Group, APJs for the Communication/Computer/Electrical Groups. I also understand that APJs will be hired for the Detroit satellite office, which will open during the summer of 2012.
In remarks to start the ceremony, Deputy Director of the USPTO Teresa Rea said, in part:
Since the implementation of the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act the United States Patent and Trademark Office has been working diligently toward rebuilding the nation’s intellectual property system from the ground up… By inaugurating a new class of Administrative Jurists the Office is empowered to continue making significant strides in aggressively tackling the backlog of cases that often tie up innovation, innovators, technologies and breakthroughs that may lead to job growth. But the America Invents Act is not just strengthening the Board in numbers. The AIA is also working to establish in-house review processes that will drive down cost prohibitive court costs for inventors. The Judges that we swear in today will be instrumental in shaping that future.
This nicely captures why it is that so many highly talented individuals are interested in joining the USPTO to become Administrative Patent Judges. The America Invents Act changes the title of the Board to Patent Trial and Appeal Board, and after September 16, 2012, the Board will be responsible for the newly created post-grant review, inter partes review, transitional business method challenges and ultimately for derivation proceedings. This is an historic time for the patent system and many individuals are interested in participating from the front lines inside the Patent Office. As Judge Glenn Perry explained in his brief remarks on behalf of the newly minted APJs, having never worked at the USPTO he felt he had missed something in his career, and he was feeling like a kid on the first day of school now that he has joined the Office.