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ABA Section Gives Obama its Wish List

Issued: February 01 2009
The Section of Intellectual Property Law of the American Bar Association has given the Barack Obama administration a wish list of six key changes it would like to see. The recommendations were submitted as a report to the Obama transition team prior to the January 20 change in government.

The report, which was not approved by the ABA House of Delegates or the Board of Governors and does not represent ABA policy, targets the US Patent and Trademark Office and includes a jab at former director Jon Dudas.

“Twenty years ago, the American Bar Association adopted a policy advocating ‘any person selected to be Commissioner or Deputy Commissioner of Patents and Trademarks be a lawyer having experience in patent and trademark law, knowledgeable of both domestic and international laws concerning these matters, and well qualified to represent the United States Patent and Trademark Office domestically and to advocate United States positions on patent and trademark matters internationally,’” the report said. The report continued, noting that Title 35 of the United States Code contains a similar but less demanding statement of qualifications for the director, that he or she “has a professional background and experience” in patent or trademark law.

“In recent practice,” the IP section wrote, “even this minimal requirement has not been demanded of all those appointed to the Office of Director of the PTO.” It urged the Obama administration to follow the qualifications called for in the ABA policy.

The Section also asked the administration to stop Congress from diverting millions of dollars of user fee collections each year to fund activities unrelated to the USPTO. These amounts have exceeded US$100 million in some years, according to the report.

Other issues addressed include expanding the right of the public to submit prior art in pending patent applications, increasing interaction between applicants and examiners and improving the quality of life and training for examiners.


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