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Deputy Director Barner Keynote Speaker at Annual Meeting

Unofficial Gazette



by Jeffrey Look


Deputy Undersecretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Sharon Barner, urged members of the Patent and Trademark Office Society (PTOS) to be active participants in the implementation of the Office’s Strategic Plan at the PTOS annual meeting on February 24.
The USPTO is in the process of revising and restructuring the strategic plan. The new plan will address, among other things, the agency’s large backlog of patent applications and the quality of application review. In the coming months, USPTO management will roll out the plan for public and USPTO employee comment.    
“The USPTO plays a key role in the nation’s economy and in creating jobs. The patent backlog is an obstacle to the innovation that patents are designed to protect,” Deputy Barner said.
Barner said the process of reaching the goals in the Strategic Plan will be hard work, but with input from PTO employees, the goals can be obtained. “We need to nurture a culture where ideas are cherished. You know where the best practices and the problems are. We want to hear from you,” she told the attendees. “If any of you have an idea about improvements we can make, email either me or Director Kappos,” Barner added.
Barner said that as for reducing the patent backlog, the Office is in the process of hiring experienced patent examiners who can get up to production in a relatively short period of time. She added that hiring more examiners is only part of the solution. She also said that retaining examiners is important as well and the Office is working on plans that will help reduce attrition.
Barner praised the PTOS’ “Kids in Chemistry” program in which teams of volunteers from the PTOS teach and encourage children to understand and enjoy science through the use of simple and fun experiments. “We are moving into an innovation economy. Math and science education is something we need for our country to maintain its leadership in innovation.” She urged the society to develop more programs along these lines.
The PTOS also announced the winners of various awards for the year. Heather Herndon, Christine Nucker and Cecilia Tsang were recognized for maintaining 25 years of continued membership in the PTOS. The recipient of the “Outstanding Service Award” given to the person who has made a significant contribution to the work of the PTOS over a long period of time was Tonia Dollinger.
The winner of the annual Joseph Rossman award for the article in the Journal of the Patent and Trademark Office Society which best makes the greatest contribution to the field of patents, trademarks, or copyrights was John Schlicher. Schlicher is one of only three people to have won the award twice since the award’s inception in 1972. Schlicher previously won the award in 2001.
The “Ant” awards for those who have gone above and beyond the call of duty in service to the PTOS were given to: Rob Hodge, Yara Green, John Zimmermann, Christyann Pulliam, Mark Fearer, Nigel Fonenont, Ed Kim, Adam Duda, Rob Fuller, Mike Araj, Dave Huismann, Eric Keasel, Jeff O'Brien, Brent Herring, Phil Bonzell and Heather Shackelford.
The “Grand Ant” award for the person who most embodied the spirit of volunteerism for the PTOS was Seahvosh Nikmanesh.
Two “Outgoing Officer” awards were also given, going to officers who are leaving the executive board. The recipients were Kristina Fulton, who served as the 2009 PTOS president, and Alex Kosowski, who served as the PTOS treasurer from 2006-2009. The society thanked both of them for their excellent service.

The PTOS was formed in 1917. The purpose of the PTOS is to further the technological development of the United States in so far as the patent and trademark systems are or may be factors, to promote and foster a true appreciation of those systems, to cultivate the highest standards of professional ethics among patent practitioners and Patent and Trademark Office professionals and to promote the professional and social welfare of the members of the Society.