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IBM Exec Takes Patent And Trademark Hot Seat

Former IBM lawyer David Kappos takes the reins at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, which is under pressure to reform amid a backlog of patent applications.

The Senate has confirmed David Kappos as director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, filling the top position in an agency that's been under pressure to reform.

Kappos, IBM's assistant general counsel, will also serve as undersecretary for intellectual property at the Department of Commerce. He has been an advocate of intellectual property reform efforts such as the Peer-to-Patent collaborative patent review program.

"The PTO faces many challenges," Kappos said in testimony to Congress last month. "Most immediate are those resulting from the current economic downturn, the need for a stable and sustainable funding model, the need to address pendency concerns while preserving and enhancing patent quality, and the imperative to attract and retain skilled personnel at a time of fiscal constraint."

The PTO suffers from a backlog of patent applications and outdated IT systems. Amid lawsuits, Congress, the technology industry, and inventors alike have been calling for intellectual property reform in the United States.

"It's no secret that the agency currently faces significant and persistent challenges, but David is the right person to meet them and carry out my top priority for the US. PTO -- dramatically reducing the unacceptably long time it takes to process patent applications," Commerce secretary Gary Locke said in a statement.

While at IBM, Kappos managed the company's portfolio of intellectual property and patents and was responsible for licensing IBM's intellectual property. He has also served on the board of directors at the American Intellectual Property Law Association and Intellectual Property Owners Association.

InformationWeek Analytics has published an independent analysis on setting government IT priorities. Download the report here (registration required).

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