On the Record with Former PTO Director Nick Godici – Part 1


Written by Gene Quinn (of IPWatchdog.com and Practice Center Contributor)

On Tuesday, June 29, 2010, I had the opportunity to sit down on the record with Nick Godici, the former Acting Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office and Former Acting Undersecretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property. Godici is one of only a small handful of individuals to have seen the Patent Office on every level, from newest patent examiner to SPE to Group Director, Commissioner for Patents and ultimately to Director of the USPTO.  I have wanted to sit down with him for some time now, and some mutual friends of ours, who are mentioned in the interview in passing, made introductions.  I was put in touch with Godici and now the rest is history, as they say.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Godici, and we managed to get into a wide variety of issues that ranged from his early days as a patent examiner, his patent examination philosophy and approach, the role of the USPTO, the Patent Granting Authority versus the Patent Denial Authority, examiner training, building relationships between patent examiners and the patent bar, the PTO work from home initiative, inequitable conduct, the Bilski decision and what the USPTO is now likely doing to address that, the parallels between the Reagan Administration and the Obama Administration in terms of patent and innovation policy and exactly what it is like to be the Commissioner of Patents and the Director of the Patent Office, and much more. Oh yes, we also talked about his getting a call from Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke last summer and returning to the Patent Office for a few months as a special adviser at the request of the Obama Administration.

Godici, who I quickly built a familiarity with likely in part due to our mutual friends and due to our common views on many issues, was extraordinarily gracious with his time. The interview was conducted at Godici’s office at Birch, Stewart, Kolasch & Birch LLP, in Falls Church, Virginia.  We had originally scheduled a 1 hour interview, and 90 minutes later we were wrapping up and I was cutting some prepared questions to make sure I got all the big ticket items in.

In terms of interview mechanics, I provided written questions in advance and agreed to steer clear of anything political or sensitive given that Godici does a fair amount of expert witness work and due to his being recalled last year to advise the Obama Administration on a variety of matters. Notwithstanding, we did talk substance and the interview gives an excellent behind the scenes look into the operations of the USPTO.  In my judgment the prepared questions were long enough for about a 45-50 minute interview, so there was a good deal of follow up and give and take. Due to the length of the interview it will be published in three parts.

For Part 1: On the Record with Former PTO Director Nick Godici click here.

For Nick Godici Part 2: Comparing Reagan and Obama, the Backlog, Examiner/Attorney Relations, Bilski & Bein PTO Director click here.

For Nick Godici Part 3: Funding Crisis ’09, Furloughs & Fun Stuff click here.

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