McDonnell Boehnen Hulbert & Berghoff LLP

In a letter sent to President Joseph Biden at the end of March, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, and Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, asked the President to "prioritize the appointment of intellectual property officials within the Executive Branch over the coming weeks."

Senators Leahy (at right) and Tillis (at left) note that "[e]nsuring that the intellectual property of creative artists, inventors and small businesses is meaningfully protected" constitutes a top priority for them, and point out that IP-intensive industries account for 45 million jobs and more than 38 percent of U.S. GDP.  Recognizing the importance of IP to the Nation's culture and economy, the Senators ask the President to "move expeditiously to fill key Executive Branch positions that promote and protect intellectual property rights at home and abroad."  Among those key positions for the Senators are the Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator, and the Chief Innovation and Intellectual Property Negotiator within the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.

The Senators close their letter by indicating that "IP-intensive industries are poised to continue to be an engine for growth," especially in view of the damage to the economy caused by the coronavirus, and expressing their commitment to with the President and his Administration "to swiftly confirm qualified nominees for these critical positions."

President Biden's selection for Secretary of Commerce, former Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo, was confirmed by the Senate on March 2, 2021.  The Administration has yet to nominate an Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property.