By Donald Zuhn --
Commissioner Stoll to Retire from Government Service
On Wednesday, the U.S. Patent and Trademark office announced that Commissioner of Patents Robert Stoll (at right) would be retiring from the agency effective December 31, 2011. The Office also announced that Director David Kappos will nominate current Deputy Commissioner for Patents Margaret "Peggy" Focarino to fill the position once Commissioner Stoll's resignation becomes effective. Commissioner Stoll, who was appointed to his current post by Director Kappos in October 2009, has been with the USPTO for 29 years. The Commissioner for Patents is nominated by the Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property (i.e., the USPTO Director) and is appointed by the Secretary of Commerce for a term of five years.
One day after announcing that he would be leaving the Office at the end of the year, Commissioner Stoll gave the luncheon keynote at the BIO IP Counsels Committee (IPCC) conference in New York, where he pointed to the reduction of the patent application backlog to 670,000 applications as one of the Office's most important accomplishments under his watch. The Commissioner also noted that the USPTO would be releasing a number of a Federal Register notices in January as part of the Office's efforts to implement the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act. He strongly encouraged attendees to provide comments regarding the new notices (as well as notices the Office has already issued). The Commissioner's comments regarding the Office's implementation of the AIA echoed comments made during an earlier session given by USPTO Associate Solicitor Janet Gongola, who is spearheading the Office's efforts to implement the AIA.
USPTO Discontinues Mailing of Fee Schedules
In a notice published in Thursday's Federal Register (76 Fed. Reg. 68166), the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office announced that it would no longer be mailing revised fee schedules to registered attorneys, agents, and deposit account holders when the fees are adjusted due to enactment of legislation or fluctuations in the Consumer Price Index. The Office noted that because a substantial number of filings and fee payments are submitted on-line, and the most up-to-date fee schedule is always available and maintained on-line, paper fee schedules had been rendered obsolete. For those who cannot do without a paper fee schedule, copies can be obtained by calling the USPTO Contact Center at 571-272–1000 or 800-786–9199.
USPTO Launches Small Business Innovation Research Pilot Program
Last month, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office announced that it was implementing a pilot program, in collaboration with the National Science Foundation (NSF), to provide Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) awardees with "comprehensive intellectual property support" through the agency's small business programs and resources. As part of the program, the USPTO will provide monthly webinars covering a broad array of IP topics through its Global Intellectual Property Academy (GIPA). The Office has also provided its IP Awareness Assessment tool, which was developed in collaboration with The National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) to help inventors and companies assess their IP strategies, to twenty SBIR awardees.