Nominating Gary Griswold for PTO Director

Over the past several months I have been nominating individuals who I think would make a good choice for the next Undersecretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property, also known as the Director of the USPTO.  It is my belief that the patent crisis that faces us requires that President-elect Obama nominate someone who is not only familiar with innovation and technology, but someone who is intimately familiar with the patent process.  So far I have nominated Judge Pauline Newman, Paul Kaminiski and Stephen Kunin.  Last week, Judge Randall Rader, speaking at a CLE in Colorado, stated from the podium that the Federal Circuit needs Judge Newman and the patent bar cannot have her as the new Director.  I know the Federal Circuit needs Judge Newman, but she would be perfect.  So would Judge Rader, but it was announced by Don Dunner at the CLE that Judge Rader will soon become the new Chief Judge of the Federal Circuit, which is great news if you ask me.  In any event, at least Judge Rader is reading my writings, or at least hearing about them, which is nice!

I was starting to think that Kunin had a real chance given that he is a patent attorney, he started his career at the Patent Office as an examiner and rose through the ranks to a high career office within the USPTO, and then left the USPTO to become a a partner with Oblon, Spivak, McClelland, Maier & Neustadt, P.C., one of the top patent firms in the United States.  Kunin even canceled some speaking engagements, so I was thinking he was in tight with the Obama transition team.  As it turns out, he is returning to the Patent Office, but to head the newly created Reexamination division within the Office.  So I need to get out another name or two given that Judge Newman, Judge Rader and Kunin seem to be non-starters.  So without further ado I nominate Gary Griswold, Chairman of the Coalition for 21st Century Patent Reform and former President and Chief Intellectual Property Counsel of 3M Innovative Properties Company.

Mr. Griswold is a Consultant to 3M and was the President and Chief Intellectual Property Counsel of 3M Innovative Properties Company.  He has a BS in Chemical Engineering from Iowa State University, a MS in Industrial Administration from Purdue University, and a J.D. with honor from the University of Maryland.  He has practiced intellectual property law at 3M and E. I. Dupont de Nemours and Co. for over 34 years.  For a 6-year period Mr. Griswold managed the Dental Products Division of 3M.  He is a past President of the Intellectual Property Owners, Inc. and the American Intellectual Property Law Association, and is presently President of the Association of Corporate Patent Counsel, a Fellow of the American Intellectual Property Law Association and a member of the Council of the Intellectual Property Law Section of the American Bar Association.  He was Chair of the National Council of Intellectual Property Law Associations, a member of the Board of the National Inventors Hall of Fame Foundation, a member of the U.S. Secretary of Commerce’s Industry Functional Advisory Committee on Intellectual Property Rights for Trade Policy Matters, and an alternate member of the U.S. Secretary of Commerce’s Advisory Commission on Patent Law Reform, 1991-1992.

Mr. Griswold would make an excellent choice by President-elect Obama.  His knowledge of the industry is second to none, and he certainly understands the importance of a functioning patent system that can award rights in real time to applicants.  Mr. Griswold has testified in front of Congress on several occasions, and is one of the leading forces in the patent industry behind meaningful, intelligent and real patent reform.  In an interview given to the Twin Cities Business Magazine in January 2007, Griswold, while still with 3M Innovative Properties, said: “Our desire is to have valid patents issued promptly in a cost-efficient manner.”  In my opinion, that ought to be the primary focus and objective of whoever is the next Director of the USPTO.  The Patent Office has lost sight of the fact that issuing patents is the mission of the Office, and that a patent is a wasting asset. 

John White, who was in attendance at the Colorado Patent CLE mentioned earlier and my source of information from that CLE, says that the CLE audience was informed during presentations that First Office Actions in electrical arts are now 42 months after filing.  So if you have an electrical invention you are going to need to wait for 3.5 years for the patent examiner to even get around to issuing a rejection on an application hardly read.  That is nonsense and it needs to stop, and it needs to stop now.  The US patent system is on the brink of complete and total failure the same way our financial systems collapsed and just stopped working.  If you think the financial collapse hurt our economy, when technologies companies are not able to protect their inventions just wait and see how many jobs will be lost and how investment in technology research and development will cease and flee the US.  That will not be good for our economy, for our national security or for Wall Street, Main Street and every other Street from Point Pleasant, New Jersey all the way across our country to Huntington Beach, California. 

Mr. President-elect, please give us someone who has the knowledge and ability to fix the US patent system.  Please give us someone that industry will respect, that Congress will listen to and that the Patent Bar can work with and trust.  There is a short list of people who can provide what we need, and the name Gary Griswold needs to be on your short list and right near the top.

About the Author

Eugene R. Quinn, Jr.
President & Founder of IPWatchdog, Inc.
US Patent Attorney (Reg. No. 44,294)

B.S. in Electrical Engineering, Rutgers University
J.D., Franklin Pierce Law Center
L.L.M. in Intellectual Property, Franklin Pierce Law Center

View Gene Quinn's profile on LinkedIn

Gene is a US Patent Attorney, Law Professor and the founder of He teaches patent bar review courses and is a member of the Board of Directors of the United Inventors Association. Gene has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the LA Times, CNN Money and various other newspapers and magazines worldwide.


Warning & Disclaimer: The pages, articles and comments on do not constitute legal advice, nor do they create any attorney-client relationship. The articles published express the personal opinion and views of the author as of the time of publication and should not be attributed to the author’s employer, clients or the sponsors of

Join the Discussion

2 comments so far.

  • [Avatar for stand]
    January 14, 2009 03:22 pm

    After hearing Judge Rader’s comments during the appeal of the Continuations and Claims rule changes, more’s the pity that he and Pauline seem to be not a good choices for a new Director. They are both way too valuable right where they are, in my opinion, and I can’t even imagine how long it would take for a new judge to get up to speed in the rapidly evolving IP landscape that has been happening over the last few years. Paul Kaminski sounds like a very good choice, as well as Mr. Griswold. The latter would seem to have the edge as regards being actively involved with IP issues for apparently quite a number of years.

  • [Avatar for markmalek]
    January 14, 2009 11:24 am

    unfortunately, I”ve got to agree with Judge Radar. I’d hate to see Judge Newman come off the Federal Circuit.

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