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WASHINGTON — The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office will need a new director come Jan. 9 with the departure of James Rogan after a two-year stint. The buzz in the patent bar is that deputy director Jon Dudas, who will be acting director, is the front-runner to take over the presidentially appointed position. Rogan put “PTO reform on the Washington legislative agenda,” says Herbert Wamsley, the Intellectual Property Owners Association’s executive director. Rogan launched a five-year plan to improve patent quality. A bill to increase filing fees and end “fee diversion” — an effort to keep PTO-generated funds at the PTO — has not been passed. “I’ve done everything I can on it,” Rogan says. Rogan is returning to California to finish an autobiography, due out next summer. Other than that, “I’ll probably go hang my hat at a law firm.” Meanwhile, the PTO wants lawyers and patent agents to take continuing legal education courses and pay annual dues. Currently, the agency requires a one-time test for admission. The proposed rules call for practitioners to answer questions on the PTO’s Web site or take approved CLE courses every one to three years. Christine Hines is a reporter for Legal Times , a Recorder affiliate based in Washington, D.C.

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