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Remarks at Ceremonial Swearing In of Under Secretary of Commerce David Kappos, Alexandria, Virginia


Thursday, August 13, 2009



Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke
Remarks at Ceremonial Swearing In of Under Secretary of Commerce David Kappos
USPTO Headquarters
Alexandria, Virginia

Thank you and good afternoon everyone. I’m delighted we could all be together for this special occasion and happy we’re not sitting out here in 100 degree heat.

I talked to NOAA earlier to request this pleasant weather—and I want to thank them for coming through.

We have been looking forward to having David Kappos on board as the new Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

And I’m pleased to welcome David’s wife, Leslie Kimball, who’s with us today.

I also want to recognize and thank John Doll for his service as acting under secretary and director.

David is taking on a big job, a tough job. Promoting and protecting U.S. inventions, innovation, and creativity directly affects our nation’s welfare and prosperity.

The founders of America thought providing limited protection for intellectual property important enough to include a provision in Article 1, Section 8, of the Constitution.

This paved the way for Thomas Edison, Abraham Lincoln. . . Michael Jackson, and millions of others to protect their intellectual property through patents and trademarks.

However, it’s no secret that the agency today is facing significant challenges.

Put simply, it takes too long for inventions and new ideas to get intellectual property protection. Right now, the patent application pendency process takes an average of 32 months. First office action takes well over 20 months.

This has a direct, negative impact on America’s economic competitiveness—creating uncertainty for entrepreneurs and inventors.

We’ve heard the concerns of America’s innovators. That’s why we are pursuing an extremely aggressive goal of taking the average first office action time down to 10 months—which would be the fastest it’s ever been at the modern day PTO.

Over time, the PTO has not evolved quickly enough to keep up with America’s changing climate of innovation.

Part of the problem has been inconsistent funding and diversion of resources to other government activities that leaves the PTO without the resources they need. We’re working to fix that.

But we also need to rethink the way we’re doing business so we can unleash the expertise and creativity of the PTO team. There are so many talented people in this office. We just need to knock down the organizational barriers that are preventing the PTO from reaching its full potential.

I pledge to you today that I will spend the political capital necessary to give the PTO the resources they need to succeed.

And I am very excited to have someone like David Kappos as a partner in this effort.

David is the right man to reboot the PTO. Over his 20 year-career, he has accrued deep knowledge of the patent system and gained broad respect from professionals ranging from the biotech, life sciences and high tech sectors.

Most recently, David was the vice president and assistant general counsel for intellectual property at IBM.

David has served on the boards of directors of a number of professional organizations and held leadership positions in IP law associations in Asia and the United States.

He also has served as the vice president of the Intellectual Property Owners Association.

David received his bachelor’s degree in electrical and computer engineering from the University of California-Davis and his law degree from the University of California-Berkeley.

It is quite a resumé. David’s innate grasp of the issues will make him an ideal leader for the PTO. No less important is the strong support that David has already garnered from both Democrats and Republicans in Congress. That will be crucially important as we move forward with major reforms in the months ahead.

David, you have a hard-working, dedicated team here, and I know you are eager to get to work.

So, please come forward…and would Leslie also join us.