is a partner in the Intellectual Property Practice Group at Haynes Boone whose practice focuses on USPTO post-issuance proceedings and Federal Circuit appeals. He previously served as both the U.S. Patent and Trademark’s Acting Director and Acting Solicitor.
Incoming U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Director Kathi Vidal’s answers to Senators’ written questions following her recent confirmation hearing provide reasons for hope to those concerned about the current state of the patent system. Vidal’s responses emphasize three priorities: strengthening patents and trademarks, ensuring that U.S. intellectual property is protected abroad, and expanding the reach of the patent system to underrepresented groups. This article focuses on five important issues that any new USPTO Director will need to address—and looks for clues as to how she may approach them.
When the America Invents Act (AIA) was before Congress a decade ago, it was heralded as the first comprehensive patent law since the 1952 Act. Ten years’ perspective on the new law, however, shows that its changes to patent policy have been more evolution rather than revolution. The AIA is simply the latest step in the long arc of moving U.S. law toward a more objective and logical patent system—and one that produces more accurate results.