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Robert Stoll

Partner, Co-Chair IP Group, Former Commissioner for Patents, USPTO

Faegre Drinker

Robert Stoll is a Partner and Co-Chair of the IP Practice Group at Faegre Drinker Biddle and Reath and a former United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) patent commissioner who applies more than 35 years of experience in intellectual property prosecution to advising clients on protecting inventions and the complexities of foreign and domestic intellectual property laws. He also advocates generally for the critical role of intellectual property in economic growth and job creation. Bob advises clients about potential legislative and rule changes and helps them advocate their interests before the administration and the legislature. Bob frequently testifies in court as an expert witness in prosecution at the USPTO. Bob was inducted into the IPWatchdog Masters® Hall of Fame in May 2023.

Patent Prosecution

Bob manages patent prosecution for multinational corporations, conducts portfolio analyses and provides opinions on patent issues. He troubleshoots problems that arise in the prosecution of patent cases. He advises on post-grant procedures before the USPTO and engages in policy work related to intellectual property. Bob also represents other attorneys and firms before the Office of Enrollment and Discipline at the USPTO.

USPTO Commissioner

Bob retired from the USPTO as commissioner for patents in 2011 after a distinguished 34-year government career, having started at the USPTO as an examiner. He was instrumental in the passage of landmark patent legislation, the America Invents Act, and is lauded for his efforts to reduce patent pendency and improve patent quality. As Commissioner, Bob managed 8,000 employees at the USPTO and was responsible for all of the functions relating to the grant of a patent in the Office.

As the agency head of the Office of Legislation and International Affairs at the USPTO, Bob developed and delivered education programs worldwide to foreign officials and to the public. He was influential in the development and analysis of legislation concerning all areas of intellectual property and was one of the country’s leaders in establishing the U.S. government’s positions on international issues related to intellectual property. He also helped develop and plan USPTO strategic goals, objectives and priorities and served as a liaison with patent and trademark bar groups and academic and scientific communities.

Recent Articles by Robert Stoll

Towards a Better Patent System, Part Two: USPTO Fees

In my previous article, I made a modest proposal for improving one aspect of patent examination by requiring applicants to identify support in the specification for new and amended claims. That suggestion was premised on my firm conviction – based on 34 years at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in roles ranging from examiner to Commissioner for Patents – that we must improve the quality of examination if we want the United States to remain on a par with patent offices in other leading jurisdictions such as Europe, Japan and China. I believe that the best, and perhaps only, way to do this is to move toward viewing examination less as an adversarial process and as more of a shared responsibility in which applicants work in partnership with examiners to improve examination. Continuing with that theme, I would suggest that the current fee-adjustment process presents another opportunity for applicants and the Office to work together to improve examination and strengthen our nation’s patent system.

Let’s Take This Simple First Step Toward Better Quality Patents

The quality of issued patents drives the entire patent system. Valid patents fuel innovation, but invalid patents often have the opposite effect. Well-searched claims with clear boundaries, detailed disclosures with understandable teachings, and alignment with the proper statutes, rules and regulations, all contribute to a high-quality patent that an inventor can rely on and that appropriately apprises competitors and the public of the scope of the invention. Although the U.S. patent system overall is still arguably the best in the world, there is room to do things better. Instead of leading the world in issuing robust and reliable patents, we are at risk of being surpassed by China in the innovation arena. It is incontestable that many improvements to drafting and prosecuting of patent applications can be made by both the applicants and examiners to provide more certainty to the validity of issued patents.

Past Events with Robert Stoll