New leadership at the USPTO

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One of the responsibilities of the Director of the USPTO, carried out every Tuesday, is the signing of US patents and US trademark registration certificates.  On Tuesday, January 19, 2021, Director Andrei Iancu’s signature was placed upon 5414 trademark registration certificates and 4605 patents.  One of the trademark registration certificates appears at right, and I have highlighted his signature which appears just below the gold seal.

The following day, January 20, 2021, Mr. Iancu ceased to be the Director.  Now the person performing the functions and duties of the Director is Drew Hershfeld, the Commissioner for Patents.  I expect that this coming Tuesday, January 26, it will be Mr. Hirschfeld’s signature that will be placed upon the patents and the registration certificates.

12 thoughts on “New leadership at the USPTO

    • There’s a federal law that determines who steps temporarily in to “perform the functions and duties” of an agency in the event of a vacancy. Mr. Hirshfeld is performing these functions and duties simply because the vacancy arose.

  1. It seemed to me the past several years that the Examiners were very pro-inventor/pro-business/pro-applicant and patents were “easy to get issued”. I’m curious whether you or any of your readers foresee that changing going forward? Has the pro-applicant attitude of Examiners the past several years been a result of a newer/younger generation of Examiners at the PTO, or did the pro-applicant attitude “flow from the top”. And do you expect that to change now, making it more difficult for applicants to obtain patents? Not looking for political commentary…just curious what might be on the horizon for my clients.

  2. Carl, I am surprised at your choice of language for this post, because you are usually so precise. Director Iancu did not, in any sense, “sign” these certificates–certainly he did not hand-sign them, nor did he physically use a stamp. Although it is possible that he signed them electronically, I very much doubt he was involved in this process at all, any more than the Secretary of the Treasury actually signs individual paper currency. I think the most you can say is that his signature was affixed to the certificates that were printed Tuesday, and it will not be affixed to the certificates printed next week.

    • Thank you for commenting.

      35 USC § 153 says:

      Patents shall be issued in the name of the United States of America, under the seal of the Patent and Trademark Office, and shall be signed by the Director or have his signature placed thereon … .

      15 USC § 1057 says:

      Certificates of registration of marks registered upon the principal register shall be issued in the name of the United States of America, under the seal of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, and shall be signed by the Director or have his signature placed thereon … .

      “Shall be signed by the Director” seems pretty clear. I guess you are saying you think that the signature is “placed thereon”. I could believe that.

      • Are you saying you honestly believe there’s even a possibility that the Director reviews all 5,000+ new trademark registrations each week and signs them individually, by hand, stamp or otherwise?

  3. What will happen to any patents or trademarks with the new commissioner’s signature once the stolen election is proven and the administration is determined to be fraudulent? Will they still be valid?

  4. Did anyone notice its one of the “crazy” “randomly generated” Chinese applications with, on its face, seemingly no “bona fide” basis? (Google search shows 6 results, either TM application or non-US uses.) But who knows . . .

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