U.S. Patent Trademark Office. Photo: Diego M. Radzinschi/ALM

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has undergone a lot of change in the last year. But on Wednesday the agency opted for continuity at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board, appointing the acting chief judge and deputy chief into permanent roles.

The agency announced that acting Chief Judge Scott Boalick will head up the PTAB, supervising 200-plus administrative judges who hear ex parte appeals from patent applications and preside over administrative challenges to patent validity. Boalick succeeds David Ruschke, who took a senior adviser position last summer with Office of the Commissioner for Patents.

“The USPTO has implemented key PTAB reforms over the last year, and Scott Boalick has been essential in helping develop and carry out these updates,” PTO Director Andrei Iancu said in a statement. He said Boalick will continue the PTAB’s efforts “to ensure that its proceedings are balanced and transparent,” while also working to speed up ex parte appeals and implementing the office’s new patent eligibility guidance.

“It has been my honor and privilege to work with the talented judges and staff at the board for nearly 12 years and I am excited to have the opportunity to serve as its chief judge,” Boalick said.

Boalick was appointed to the board in 2007, and has served as an administrative patent judge, lead judge, vice chief judge, and deputy chief judge. A Navy veteran, he has worked as a patent attorney with the Navy and practiced intellectual property law at Fish & Richardson. He served as a law clerk to Judge Alvin Schall of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

PTAB acting Deputy Chief Judge Jacqueline Bonilla was appointed the permanent deputy chief. She worked for 12 years in private practice, including as a partner at Foley & Lardner, before joining the PTAB in 2012. She is a former clerk for Federal Circuit Judge Randall Rader.

“I look forward to working with Chief Judge Boalick, Deputy Chief Judge Bonilla, as well as the rest of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board as we continue to strive for excellence and a well-balanced patent system,” Iancu said.