Nominating Pauline Newman for PTO Director

EDITORIAL NOTE: This post was originally published on October 6, 2008, by the PLI Patent Practice Center Blog. It has since become unavailable, so it is been republished here on

As the Presidential election continues to heat up it is time for me to start compiling names of those who I think are qualified to be the next Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property, otherwise known as the Director of the Patent & Trademark Office.  Regardless of whether we elect John McCain or Barack Obama, my hope is that we can get someone who actually knows a thing or two about patents, the patent system and the role innovation plays in the broader US economy.  I have not spoken to any of the folks that I will be “nominating,” so I have no idea whether any of them would accept the position, so these are my thoughts only.  Hopefully this will spark some debate and cause our readers to send me some names of folks who should go onto our short list of competent candidates.  Without further ado, the first name I put into nomination is Pauline Newman, Circuit Judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

Over the last several years Pauline Newman has continued to dazzle with her understanding of patent law and issues, particularly when she is in dissent and willing to stand up to the rest of her colleagues on the Federal Circuit.  She has keenly identified time and time again the fact that Federal Circuit panels decide cases in ways that directlly contradicts both the rules of the Court and established precedent.  She is also a former patent attorney and has spent her entire career dealing with science, innovation, patents and the law.  If we are looking for someone who really gets the role of the Patent Office, sees the big picture, is well versed in patent law and understands issues that matter to inventors and the patent bar then she deserves to be on the short list of candidates and either President McCain or President Obama, as the case may be, needs to at least ask her if she is interested in the position.  Additionally, given Judge Newman’s credentials she will have the gravitas required to stand up on Capitol Hill and speak authoritatively to those who need to usher in reform.

Here is Judge Newman’s brief biography taken from the website of the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit:

PAULINE NEWMAN was appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1984. From 1982 to 1984, Judge Newman was Special Adviser to the United States Delegation to the Diplomatic Conference on the Revision of the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property. She served on the advisory committee to the Domestic Policy Review of Industrial Innovation from 1978 to 1979 and on the State Department Advisory Committee on International Intellectual Property from 1974 to 1984. From 1969 to 1984, Judge Newman served as director, Patent, Trademark and Licensing Department, FMC Corp. From 1961 to 1962 she worked for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization as a science policy specialist in the Department of Natural Resources. She served as patent attorney and house counsel of FMC Corp. from 1954 to 1969 and as research scientist, American Cyanamid Co. from 1951 to 1954. Judge Newman received a B.A. from Vassar College in 1947, an M.A. from Columbia University in 1948, a Ph.D. from Yale University in 1952 and an LL.B. from New York University School of Law in 1958.

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

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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.


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