Washington, D.C., partner Bob Stoll was quoted in an article titled, “Frustration mounts in Silicon Valley,” in The Hill.

Lobbyists are questioning why the White House has let the director position for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) sit vacant for more than a year, considering the fact that it is already understaffed and underfunded.

They further say the PTO needs a confirmed leader to deal with a patent backlog that numbers in the hundreds of thousands, and they argue a confirmed director can better respond to complaints about quality control.

According to lobbyists, suitable candidates for the director job were passed over, including Rea and other officials at the PTO, such as Commissioner for Patents Peggy Focarino and Chief Policy Officer Shira Perlmutter. They questioned why the administration named a deputy director when the top spot remains open.

Although Obama has backed the tech industry’s push for patent reform legislation, even mentioning it in last week’s State of the Union address, industry officials say the empty PTO position is giving too much power to the White House.

Bob, a former PTO commissioner for patents, said, “the agency needs a Senate-confirmed director to represent the patent community in discussions at the White House. If you don’t have that imprimatur of Senate confirmation, you don’t have the clout at the table that you need to put your position forward.”

“A director at the PTO would have the pull needed to argue for having the agency excluded from the automatic spending cuts under sequestration,” he said.

Lobbyists say the lack of a PTO director sends the wrong message to the international intellectual property community.

Bob continued, “Negotiating in the international arena without a permanent director mutes our capabilities overseas and hurts our effectiveness there.”

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