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A federal judge in Washington, D.C., dismissed a lawsuit against U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos M. Gutierrez for appointing a patent office deputy director the plaintiffs said lacked the patent law background and experience required by the U.S. Patent Act. Judge James Robertson issued a one-sentence dismissal on Dec. 6 and referred to the government’s motion to dismiss and memorandum. Aharonian v. Gutierrez, No. 07-1224 (D. D.C.). In their July complaint, two California inventors and San Francisco lawyers David Pressman and David Lentini, who is also an inventor, objected to the May appointment of Margaret J.A. Peterlin as deputy director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and deputy under secretary of commerce for intellectual property. Before her patent appointment, Peterlin previously worked as counsel for legal policy and national security advisor for the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, J. Dennis Hastert. The plaintiffs called Peterlin’s appointment “arbitrary, capricious and an abuse of discretion” and a violation of the Patent Act. In a statement, Commerce Under Secretary Jon Dudas said he’s pleased the court dismissed the “meritless lawsuit.” “Margaret Peterlin is well qualified to serve in her capacity as Deputy Under Secretary, and we at the Department continue to support her in fulfilling the duties of her office,” Dudas said. “USPTO had another record-breaking year in 2007 exceeding all goals in quality, production and e-Government.” Plaintiff Greg Aharonian, a San Francisco inventor, said the ruling was “just sad.” “Washington is increasingly contemptuous of the public,” Aharonian said. “This is a minor thing in the scheme of things, but if you can’t deal with minor things won’t be able to deal with big problems.”

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