How the subsequent patent workplace director might form the patent system

Enlarge / Joe Biden speaks at a rally in Georgia on April 29, 2021. (credit score: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP by way of Getty Pictures)

Within the subsequent few weeks, President Joe Biden is anticipated to decide on a brand new director for the US Patent and Trademark Workplace. In current days, I’ve talked to a dozen people who find themselves deeply concerned within the patent system. Throughout these conversations, three names got here up time and again as main candidates.

One is patent lawyer Ellisen Turner. Over an 18-year profession, Turner has represented a variety of shoppers, from huge tech corporations to corporations that do little greater than acquire patent licensing income. Included on this latter class is a agency which may sound acquainted to long-time Ars readers: Mental Ventures. Again in 2014, my colleague Joe Mullin described Mental Ventures because the “world’s largest troll.” As an alternative of growing merchandise to promote to clients, Mental Ventures has principally targeted on accumulating a large patent portfolio after which threatening to sue corporations that refuse to license its patents.

One other main candidate is Jannie Lau, a patent legal professional who spent 11 years as the overall counsel (and earlier than that, affiliate basic counsel) at InterDigital. That is one other firm that makes nearly all its cash from patent-licensing charges—97 p.c in 2020. Whereas some critics have labeled InterDigital a patent troll, a spokesman for the corporate informed me that the label would not match. He mentioned the agency employs tons of of engineers who’ve helped to develop some key technical requirements, particularly within the wi-fi trade.

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