A longtime Senate Judiciary Committee counsel will be joining the Patent and Trademark Office, a year after he played a key role in the sweeping changes to the patent system spurred by the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act.
Joe Matal is leaving as committee counsel for retiring Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) and going to the office that has been implementing the changes since the bill was enacted in September, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) announced during a committee hearing last week.
Matal wrote the legislative history of the act that is posted on the PTO website, a heavily footnoted, 79-page description of the efforts to reform the patent system. The law adopted the first-to-file system of determining a patent's priority date and made many other important changes to the patent code. It was the first comprehensive patent bill to be enacted since the Patent Act of 1952, he wrote.
"He was extremely helpful in bipartisan work in patent reform legislation that we enacted last year," Leahy said at the committee hearing. "In fact, he was there for the signing ceremony. I wish him the best in his new position."
Matal has been the counsel to the committee since 2002, except for when he worked for Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) during 2009 and 2010, when Sessions was ranking member of the committee. He could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
The PTO media affairs office did not immediately return a phone call Tuesday asking about Matal's new position, including his title at the agency.