James Donald Smith Named Chief Patent Judge at USPTO

By Gene Quinn
April 29, 2011

Washington – U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke has appointed James Donald Smith of Chicago, Ill. to serve as the next Chief Administrative Patent Judge of the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences (BPAI) at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). As BPAI Chief Judge, Smith will lead the board that hears and adjudicates patent appeals from decisions of patent examiners. Smith begins serving as Chief Judge on May 8, 2011.

Smith currently serves as Associate General and Chief Intellectual Property Counsel of Illinois-based healthcare company, Baxter International, where he oversees its global patent, trademark and copyright affairs. He replaces Michael Fleming, the former Chief Judge who retired in the fall of 2010.

Serving under the leadership of Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO David Kappos, Smith will take charge of a board that helps the USPTO encourage innovation and technological advancement, and helps businesses protect their investments and promote goods.

“We are delighted to have James Smith joining the USPTO as Chief Judge of the BPAI. He is the ideal choice to lead the BPAI at this critical juncture, and is committed to making the Board more efficient and more responsive to the needs of parties filing appeals,” Kappos said.

Smith has had a long and successful career in the law and the intellectual property arenas, including a brief time as an examiner at the USPTO. A former Assistant Dean of the law school at Emory University in Atlanta, Smith also served as a clerk at the Federal Circuit, as a patent litigator and patent prosecutor, and led international licensing and day-to-day management of in-house IP teams for three multi-national corporations.

After becoming a lawyer, Smith clerked for now retired Chief Judge Paul Michel at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. In addition to his work at Baxter International and Emory University, Smith practiced with Arnold White & Durkee and, later, Dewey Ballantine (now Dewey Le Boeuf), serving as the office managing partner of Dewey’s Texas office, before leaving to serve as the Global Licensing Director for Nokia Corporation.

“Director Kappos has assembled a hard-working and highly talented team at the USPTO, and the board has talented and hard-working judges and staff whose rate of being affirmed is already the highest of the tribunals whose decisions are appealed to the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals. I am pleased to have the opportunity to join them in working to address the board’s backlog,” Smith said.

James received a Juris Doctor degree from the School of Law at Duke University and a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering from the University of Maryland at College Park.

The Author

Gene Quinn

Gene Quinn is a Patent Attorney and Editor and President & CEO ofIPWatchdog, Inc.. Gene founded IPWatchdog.com in 1999. Gene is also a principal lecturer in the PLI Patent Bar Review Course and Of Counsel to the law firm of Berenato & White, LLC. Gene’s specialty is in the area of strategic patent consulting, patent application drafting and patent prosecution. He consults with attorneys facing peculiar procedural issues at the Patent Office, advises investors and executives on patent law changes and pending litigation matters, and works with start-up businesses throughout the United States and around the world, primarily dealing with software and computer related innovations. is admitted to practice law in New Hampshire, is a Registered Patent Attorney and is also admitted to practice before the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. CLICK HERE to send Gene a message.

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