David J. Kappos is a partner at Cravath. Kappos supports the firm’s clients with a wide range of their most complex intellectual property issues.
From August 2009 to January 2013, Kappos served as undersecretary of commerce and director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office. In that role, he advised the president, secretary of commerce and the administration on intellectual property policy matters. As director of the USPTO, he led the agency in dramatically reengineering its entire management and operational systems as well as its engagement with the global innovation community. He was instrumental in achieving the greatest legislative reform of the U.S. patent system in generations, through passage and implementation of the Leahy Smith America Invents Act, signed into law by President Obama in September 2011.
Prior to leading the USPTO, Kappos served more than 25 years at IBM, the world’s largest patent holder. From 2003 to 2009, he served as the company’s vice president and assistant general counsel for intellectual property. In that capacity, he managed global intellectual property activities for IBM, including all aspects of patent, trademark, copyright and trade secret protection. He also served as litigation counsel and Asia Pacific IP counsel, leading all aspects of intellectual property protection for the Asia/Pacific region. Kappos joined IBM as a development engineer.
Kappos has received numerous recognitions, including induction into the Intellectual Property Hall of Fame by Intellectual Asset Management magazine, being named one of the 50 most influential people in intellectual property by Managing IP magazine, and being named intellectual property professional of the year by the Intellectual Property Owners Association in 2011.
Kappos was born in Palos Verdes, California. He received a B.S. summa cum laude in electrical and computer engineering from the University of California, Davis, in 1983, and a J.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1990.