While it has not yet been announced officially, Arti Rai appears to be on her way to becoming the USPTO's next Administrator for External Affairs. In this position Rai will oversee the Office of International Relations , the Office of Congressional Relations and Office of Enforcement. According to at least one report, Rai is expected to arrive "any day now" to take the position.
While being well respected in academic circles, Rai has been a controversial figure on the patent front (see, e.g., "Professor Arti Rai to the Patent Office? I Sure Hope Not!" (link)), particularly for her strong endorsement of the PTO's patent continuation rules; a copy of the "law professor amicus brief" - cheekily referred to as the "dirty dozen" brief - in support of the rules can be downloaded here (link). Also, contrary to the beliefs of many in the patent bar, Rai argues that the patent system would benefit from the USPTO having more control over rulemaking authority (link). Finally, Rai also supports the idea of creating a "gold-plated" patent system applicants, where the "clear and convincing" validity standard would be applied only to patents that have undergone a more rigorous (and expensive) examination process. You can here Rai discussing her views on this, and other topics, here (link)
In related news, Peter Pappas, who previously served in several capacities in the Clinton administration, has been brought on to head up the USPO's communications and public outreach operation.
On the Patent Reform front, reports are surfacing that attempts are being made to schedule debate on the Patent Reform Bill before the end of the year. According to CongressDaily:
Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy said Thursday he wants to work with Majority Leader Harry Reid to schedule debate before the end of the year. Leahy made his comments the same day that PTO Director David Kappos told the American Intellectual Property Law Association's annual meeting that a legislative fix is needed immediately. "Not everyone is getting everything they want" in the bill, Kappos said, but it is a "major positive step" for the stakeholders involved.
At this time, at least 12 Senators have written Leahy expressing concern over the "problematic" nature of re-examination requests, arguing that "additional work" needs to be done in that regard:
These so-called post-grant review provisions, as currently crafted, are quite problematic. This language, which would permit serial challenges to patents at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and in the courts, threatens to diminish the value and enforceability of U.S. patent rights at a time when America's economic recovery is dependent on the strength of U.S. innovation. Ideally, we hope these issues can be fully resolved before the bill comes to the floor.
Red the letter here (link)