Back to Officials


Name: Kappos, David
Current Position: Former Under Secretary

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the chief federal agency charged with bringing order to the confused and crisis-ridden field of patent law, has a new director. President Barack Obama turned to David Kappos, an engineer and attorney with more than 20 years of experience in the field, to be the next Director of PTO. Nominated June 18, Kappos was confirmed unanimously by the Senate on August 7, and was sworn in as Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office on August 13. He has taken control of an office that provides incentives to encourage technological advancement and helps businesses protect their investments. The office continues to deal with a patent application backlog of more than 770,000, long waiting periods for patent review, information technology systems that are regarded as outdated and an application process in need of reform. Further, a major patent law reform bill is now before Congress, and a potentially important patent law case will be decided by the Supreme Court in the coming term. 

Born March 3, 1961, in Palos Verdes, California, Kappos grew up in California, the grandson of Greek immigrants. Kappos earned his B.S. in electrical and computer engineering from the University of California at Davis in 1983, and his law degree from the University of California at Berkeley in 1990, although he spent his third and final year of law school studying at the renowned intellectual property law program at the George Washington University Law School in Washington, DC. 
Kappos has spent his entire professional career with just one employer, IBM, a rarity in today’s environment of job-hopping free agent professionals and executives. He joined IBM straight out of engineering school in 1983 as a development engineer in Endicott, New York, where he worked until beginning law school in 1987. After completing law school in May 1990, Kappos transferred to IBM’s legal department, starting as a trainee in intellectual property law in Arlington, Virginia, and then worked in San Jose, California, from December 1990 through May 1998. Promoted to Assistant General Counsel for Intellectual Property Law, Kappos worked for two years in Tokyo, Japan, from May 1998 to July 2000. He relocated to IBM’s international headquarters in Armonk, New York, in August 2000 as Corporate Counsel, and was named Vice President and Assistant General Counsel in May 2003, from which position he has now resigned. 
Kappos serves on the Board of Directors of the American Intellectual Property Law Association, the Intellectual Property Owners Association, and the International Intellectual Property Society. He has held various previous leadership positions in intellectual property law associations in Asia and the U.S, and has spoken widely in Asia, Europe, and the U.S. on intellectual property topics.
Kappos is married. His wife, Leslie Kimball, is also an attorney. As of January 1, 2009, she left her practice at the law firm of Hogan & Hartson to move into the pro bono sector full time, working for Pro Bono Partnership, a non-profit dedicated to providing free legal advice and education to other non-profits in the New York /Connecticut /New Jersey area. A Democrat, Kappos volunteered on the Obama primary and presidential campaigns by serving on the IP Law advisory team, calling voters, and travelling for a weekend to Pennsylvania to get out the vote. Kappos also donated $2,300 to Obama’s campaign in 2008.  
Managing IP the IBM way (by David Kappos, IP Review Online)
'Eco-Patent Commons' hopes to improve environmental innovation (by Tome Abate, San Francisco Chronicle)
Bookmark and Share