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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.

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