Under Secretary of Commerce and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) David Kappos announced on Friday, October 1, 2010, that effective immediately the USPTO is reorganizing its operational structure to strengthen the agency’s management, communications and policy functions in accordance with the goals set forth in its 2010-2015 Strategic Plan. This plan, which according to the USPTO website is now available in final form, was completed with input from our public advisory committees, stakeholders, the public, and employees. According to the USPTO website, “The plan is designed to strengthen the capacity of the USPTO, improve the quality of patents and trademarks issued and shorten the time it takes to get a patent. The plan as fully implemented will enhance and accelerate the innovation and job growth needed to transform the U.S. economy, foster competitiveness and drive the creation and growth of U.S. businesses”
The reorganization creates two “new” Offices within the Patent Office, which will directly report to Director Kappos. Calling these Offices “new” is really a misnomer. Yes, they did not previously exist in their current configuration, but the changes are structural and relate to the fact that there are now two new reporting executives to the Office of the Under Secretary and Director. This does not create any new bureaucracies.
The first “new” Office within the USPTO is the Office of the Chief Communications Officer, which is formerly the Office of Public Affairs within the Under Secretary’s Office. The second “new” Office is the Office of Equal Employment Opportunity and Diversity, which was formerly the Office of Civil Rights within the Office of the Chief Administrative Offices. These two “new” Offices now report directly to the Under Secretary and Director and are represented on the Agency’s Executive Committee.
The reorganization also transfers the reporting of the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences and the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, which were formerly part of the Office of General Counsel, to the Office of the Under Secretary. Additional changes involve the Patent Organization – including the addition of an Associate Commissioner for Innovation Development – and the Office of the Administrator for Policy and External Affairs to better align and clarify competencies and functions performed by those organizations.
“We have revised our structure so that we can operate more efficiently, communicate with the public in a more effective and transparent manner, and enhance our ability to achieve our goals,” said Under Secretary Kappos. “These organizational changes will enable us to better achieve our goals of reducing patent pendency and bringing innovation to market sooner, while strengthening the appeal process, promoting a more diverse workplace, and enhancing the Agency’s critical communications and outreach functions.”
The reorganization will not increase the USPTO’s number of full-time employees or resource requirements, and the agency’s current facilities in Alexandria, Va., will accommodate the reorganization.
A chart reflecting the new organizational structure can be found at http://www.uspto.gov/about/bios/uspto_org_chart.pdf.