As under secretary of commerce for intellectual property and director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), David Kappos advises the president, the secretary of Commerce and the administration on intellectual property matters. The office he directs protects IP through patents and trademarks, provides incentives to encourage technological advancement, and helps businesses protect their investments, promote their goods and services, and safeguard against deception in the marketplace. Kappos spoke with Tom Fox, who writes the Washington Post’s Federal Coach blog and is the director of the Partnership for Public Service’s Center for Government Leadership.
Are there specific programs you use to foster employee innovation?
There are. One of the areas that we were hammered on earlier this year was innovation. The problem we encounter is this: Fundamentally, our job is not to be innovative at all. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. The last thing people want is a patent examiner who’s taking creative liberty in how he reviews a patent application. As an agency of 8,000 or so professionals, it’s part of our job and our legal responsibility to follow a very detailed set of rules.