04 February 2013
Last week, David Kappos took his leave from the US Patent and Trademark Office, after serving as its Director since August 2009. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate him very warmly on his outstanding achievements. In less than four years, David carried out a major programme of change at the USPTO, leading it along the path of modernisation at a breathtaking pace and on a hitherto unprecedented scale. Two aspects of his tenure stand out:
First, everyone recognises that David played an instrumental role in the introduction of the America Invents Act, one of the biggest-ever reforms in the legal framework of the US patent system. I can well imagine the effort required to persuade the many stakeholders and decision-makers to support a reform of this magnitude.
The shift from the first-to-invent to the first-inventor-to-file principle brings the US closer to the rest of the world, opening up new prospects for international harmonisation of the patent system. To facilitate the discussions about this long-standing project, David was very active in the work of the Tegernsee Group, which recently completed an expert fact-finding exercise on some questions of substantive patent law.
Second, David was and is a pragmatist – a quality I particularly appreciated when more technical issues were being addressed at the IP5 or Trilateral levels. One of the most remarkable projects in which David was involved is the Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC), created in just two years on the basis of ECLA with input from the USPTO. The CPC, co-managed by the USPTO and the EPO, is already a reality. In our discussions on technical issues, the emphasis was always on making life easier for our users. This has been reflected in the delivery of specific tools, such as the CCD, a Trilateral project which has been highly praised by the business community; in a similar perspective, the IP5 Offices are now working on the ambitious Global Dossier initiative.
David Kappos was a consistently reliable and committed partner during his time as head of the USPTO, and I wish him every success in his new career. The EPO will continue to work together with its USTPO colleagues to seek solutions to the global challenges of the patent system.