John Doll has wasted no time moving forward to try and put his stamp on the United States Patent Office. One week ago today Doll, who became Acting Undersecretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Acting Director of the United States Patent & Trademark Office when Jon Dudas resigned, announced in the Federal Register that the USPTO will hold a roundtable discussion regarding deferred examination. The ostensible reason for this roundtable discussion is to obtain public input to help the Patent Office determine whether the support expressed in some corners for deferral of examination is isolated or whether there is general support in the patent community and/or the public sector generally for the adoption of some type of deferral of examination. Of course, those of us familiar with how the Patent Office runs know that John Doll is not at all interested in understanding what the patent community wants. He has already decided to try and push through deferred examination despite the fact that President Obama’s Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel circulated a memo requesting that all regulatory activity by Bush Administration Officials be kept to only what is absolutely necessary.
Admittedly, the Rahm Emanuel memo specifically related to the fact that President Obama does not want any proposed or final rules to be published in the Federal Register without his appointees have reviewed the rules to see whether the Obama Administration wants to pursue such regulation. So technically John Doll moving forward with respect to deferred examination is not violating a direct order from President Obama, but what is the point in pursuing any regulation or investigating any regulation at this point when Obama has not even appointed a Secretary of Commerce, although speculation seems to suggest that he will soon appoint John Thompson, the CEO of Symantec (NASDAQ:SYMC).
Anyone who has been following the United States Patent and Trademark Office over the last several years knows that John Doll is largely responsible for most, if not all, of the bad ideas and ill fate regulation attempted by former USPTO Director Jon Dudas. Dudas looked to Doll for recommendations and advice on a routine basis, and now Doll is the one in charge of the Patent Office, which is indeed extremely scary. Doll has not been appointed by President Obama, and his new boss has not even been selected and confirmed by the Senate. Nevertheless, Doll is setting out to investigate and ultimately prepare a new rules package. This nonsense has to stop!
The poll questions that I write for the Practising Law Institute are not scientific by any means, but for a little more than a week I have had a poll question up on the Patent Practice Center asking whether the ascension of John Doll is a good thing. The question specifically asks:
Do you think it is good that John Doll has become acting Director of the USPTO?
So far 100% of the respondents have voted NO, that it is not a good thing that John Doll has become the acting Director of the USPTO. Not a single vote in Doll’s favor has been registered, which is amazing if you ask me.
There is tremendous animosity between the Patent Bar and John Doll. I do not personally know the man, but everyone I have spoken to in the patent industry blames John Doll for all the problems that are facing the US patent system. I don’t know whether he is at fault for all of the problems, but he is certainly to blame for a good number of the problems no doubt. The perception is that John Doll does whatever he wants and doesn’t care about what patent attorneys think, or what the needs and desires are of those who use the patent system. So I can just about guarantee that the perception of this latest announcement will be met in the industry with tremendous laughter and even more skepticism. No one is ever going to believe that a John Doll run Patent Office is holding a roundtable discussion to find out what the patent community thinks or supports. The mode of operation at the Patent Office for years has been to request comments and then simply ignore each and every comment received. That does not inspire cooperation or confidence in the process.
In any event, if anyone is so inclined to participate in this roundtable event, it is open to the public, at least sort of open to the public at least. Members of the public who wish to participate in the roundtable must do so by request, as the number of participants in the roundtable is limited to ensure that all who are speaking will have a meaningful chance to do so. Members of the public who wish solely to observe need not submit a request. If you are not selected to participate in the roundtable you can still submit written comments on issues raised at the roundtable or on any issue pertaining to deferral of examination. I would not anticipate any written comments to be taken very seriously though. Sadly, seriously considering comments is just not the Patent Office style over the last few years.
The roundtable will be held in at the USPTO, in the Madison Auditorium on the concourse level of the Madison Building, which is located at 600 Dulany Street, Alexandria, Virginia. Requests to participate at the roundtable are required and must be submitted by electronic mail message through the Internet to [email protected]. Requests to participate at the roundtable should indicate the following information: (1) the name of the person desiring to participate and his or her contact information (telephone number and electronic mail address); and (2) the organization(s) he or she represents. Written comments should be sent by electronic mail message over the Internet addressed to [email protected]. Comments may also be submitted by mail addressed to: Mail Stop Comments- Patents, Commissioner for Patents, P.O. Box 1450, Alexandria, VA 22313-1450, marked to the attention of Robert W. Bahr. Although comments may be submitted by mail, the USPTO prefers to receive comments via the Internet.
The USPTO plans to make the roundtable available via Web cast. Web cast information will be available on the USPTO’s Internet Web site before the roundtable. The written comments and list of the roundtable participants and their associations will be posted on the USPTO’s Internet Web site.
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
Gene is a US Patent Attorney, Law Professor and the founder of IPWatchdog.com. 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