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The new Director of the USPTO, Andrei Iancu, was sworn in on February 23, 2018. While it awaited new leadership at the USPTO, the patent community may have wondered what direction the USPTO was headed. Nearly two months into his tenure, it seems clear that Director Iancu is pro patent and favors a strong patent system the will promote the U.S. economy.
Director Iancu’s views were highlighted this week in his keynote address at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Patent Policy Conference. The Director’s speech indicated that patent rights are key to incentivizing innovation, which leads to economic growth. Therefore, he favors more certainty in patent rights and potentially the granting of more patents.
Director Iancu noted two major areas in which he favors stronger patent rights. Regarding Section 101 patent subject matter eligibility, while he made assurances that the USPTO would follow the mandate of the law, Director Iancu indicated that he will seek to simplify application of the law to the examination of patent applications and to bring greater clarity to what does and does not constitute patent eligible subject matter. Turning to post-grant opposition proceedings under the AIA, and specifically Inter Partes Review proceedings, Director Iancu sees the need to more evenly balance the interests of patent owners and parties challenging patent validity. Assuming the U.S. Supreme Court does not find the AIA trials unconstitutional, Director Iancu desires the IPR process to provide for the elimination of bad patents while preventing the unfair invalidation of worthy patents whose rights stakeholders have relied upon for years before an IPR trial.
The entirety of Director Iancu’s keynote address can be accessed on the USPTO website at https://www.uspto.gov/about-us/news-updates/remarks-director-andrei-iancu-us-chamber-commerce-patent-policy-conference.
Where is the USPTO headed under new Director Iancu?
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