NAPP eNews™/April/ 2021

April 2021 NAPP Newsletter


Hi All! Sorry, it’s been awhile since we put a newsletter together, but the volunteer work continues and there is News to Share!!

Executive Director Changes
Our former executive director Brandi Gerew resigned last month to pursue an opportunity with TowneBank, offering banking services that cater to nonprofit organizations. Capitol Hill Management Services, NAPP’s association management organization, stepped up, maintaining our member services and initiating our search for a new executive director, who started this month.
On that note, please welcome Heather Blanken as our new executive director! Heather has two decades of project and event management experience in corporate, nonprofit, and PR agency environments, and she has more than enough strategic, budgeting, marketing, social media, and crisis management skills to keep us on track. You’ll be seeing her name again and again in our communications to y’all.

Government Affairs
The PTO has issued a Request for Comments on the National Strategy for Expanding American Innovation, soliciting input on ways to promote more demographically, geographically, and economically inclusive participation in the American innovation ecosystem. Under Dan Smith’s leadership, with the assistance of Xhavin Sinha and the Gov’t Affairs Committee, NAPP submitted a response which can be found here: . Most notably, NAPP urges the PTO to make the patent agent profession more attractive by advocating the acceptability of patent agents as potential partners or co-owners in law firms notwithstanding ABA Model Rule 5.4 which limits law firm ownership only to lawyers. With input from the Gov’t Affairs Committee, NAPP Vice President Chris Turoski also submitted a separate response on behalf of the U. of Minnesota Law School which can be found here:, and NAPP submitted a brief endorsement which can be found here: .

The PTO has also issued Invitations to Comment on its proposed submissions to OMB relating to the forms and practices for: patent practitioner registration and renewal; application and re-examination petitions; power of attorney grant/revocation/withdrawal; the use of DOCX; and others. NAPP Member David Boundy has taken the lead to prepare letters commenting on several of these, which will likely benefit NAPP members and other patent practitioners. Letters about the CLE and POA requirements have been submitted; work is ongoing for other letters. Contact David Boundy on the forums if you want to get involved.

NAPP’s efforts to promote harmonization of patent agent career options continue under Dan Smith’s leadership. The harmonization subcommittee has met with Mollybeth Kocialski (Director of USPTO Rocky Mountain Regional Office) and more recently with Andrei Iancu (Former Director of the USPTO), and with their encouragement is connecting with other organizations such as the AIPLA, IPO, and ABA, to broaden support for the initiative. The PTO leadership has been open to these efforts and is conducting internal analyses to calculate statistics that may lend further support. Contact Dan Smith directly or via Heather Blanken ([email protected]) if you want to get involved.

Janet Gongola, Vice Chief Judge for Strategy, PTAB, organized a web meeting with NAPP’s leadership to raise awareness of the PTO Fast-Track Appeal Pilot Program ( ), and of course we took the opportunity to familiarize the PTAB leadership about NAPP’s mission and membership. Among the more interesting factoids (to me) was the dramatic shortening of the average appeal pendency from about 12 months (normal track) to 2 months (fast track) for a cost of $420. Of course that doesn’t account for the dithering on the Examiner’s Answer, but it is nevertheless something to keep in mind if your client’s in a hurry to get something allowed.

Member Benefits
In addition to advocacy with the PTO leadership and the courts, NAPP offers a respectable number of member benefits:
— the Forums
— the Annual Meeting & Conference
— Webinars
— the NAPP Mentorship Program
— the NAPP Blog
— Fed. Cir. Case Summaries (and hopefully soon, a searchable database!)
— Short “practice tip” videos (if you’re interested in participating, please contact Ed Ryan directly or via Heather Blanken [email protected] )
— the Professional Liability program
— Lexology subscription
— Member Discounts with selected vendors
— searchable Membership Directory

Regardless, in their scarce free time, the three busy volunteers of the Member Benefits Committee are still working to bring you additional member benefits:
— The NAPP Repository of Member-Submitted Templates is now live on the forums and available for submissions
— The NAPP Jobs Board is going to go live this month (sneak peek available here:
- The committee is evaluating to determine whether to make the Patent Proofreading tool an included Member Benefit
— … and other projects are in the works.

We really could use some help! If you’re interested in developing more member benefits, please contact Mike Bendel directly or via Heather Blanken [email protected].

AMC and Webinars

We are excited to announce that registration for the 2021 Annual Meeting & Conference (AMC) will be available soon! The 2021 AMC is scheduled to run from Monday, July 19, 2021 through Wednesday, July 21, 2021 — please save the date!

Similar to 2020, the program is scheduled to be 100% virtual, but we have plans for promoting collegial interaction and networking. And, as usual for NAPP’s AMCs, we will have a wonderful lineup of high-quality speakers and topics, with plenty of CLE credits available for attorneys in attendance.

NAPP is also dedicated to providing practical, patent-related educational content throughout the year as part of the hard work of the Professional Development Committee. To this end, we’ve already successfully hosted NAPP member Jonah Probell’s webinar on “Patenting through a $ Lens” in February, and have plans to host the following upcoming webinars:

• April 14, 2021: e-PCT Basics presented by NAPP member Bruce Young
• May 19, 2021 (tentative): “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Data-Driven Patent Practice and Resources” presented by NAPP member David Stein
• Mid-June: PTAB (host TBD)

We welcome your feedback regarding all NAPP events and webinars as we continue to strive to provide value to our members through continuing education and professional development.

PR Committee
Under Genna Hibbs’ leadership, the committee is working on NAPP-branded swag with our sweet new logo, and is launching a new direct mailing campaign complete with new postcard designs. Also, have you seen the website lately? In addition to improving accessibility, we’re giving it a refresh and much needed update.

New Committees?
Several members have expressed interest in forming a Diversity Committee and the Board is organizing a discussion on what their mandate should be. If you want to be involved, contact Tom Bassolino directly or via Heather Blanken [email protected].

There is also interest in a task force to develop Pro Bono work guidance materials particularly for patent agents. If you’re interested in being on such a task force, please contact Chris Turoski directly or via Heather Blanken [email protected] .

Celebrating 25 Years
NAPP was officially incorporated in 1996, so we’re celebrating our 25 year anniversary this year. It’s been an eventful journey! Fortunately, NAPP continues to be a vibrant organization supportive of its members and our fellow patent practitioners, and in addition to the Forums, Mentorship program, and other benefits, I’m seeing a growing enthusiasm for connecting with the PTO leadership, the Congress, and the Courts to communicate what is best for the patent profession and the patent system in general. NAPP is making a difference!

Thank you for your continued membership and support of this wonderful organization.
-Dan Krueger, NAPP President