During her almost three years at the USPTO, Rea, who recently served as the acting director, helped implement sweeping changes to intellectual property law brought on by the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act. Those changes include the new post-grant review processes: inter partes review and covered business method review, where Rea expects to find most of her work.
"I helped write those rules and regulations and I have a feel for navigating that system and that world, and they're exceedingly popular right now," Rea said. "That doesn't mean I will avoid district court litigation."
In addition to being a partner in the firm, Rea also joins as a director at C&M International, Ltd., the international trade and investment consulting firm affiliated with Crowell & Moring. Rea said she developed contacts in those areas during her roles as deputy director and, later, acting director of the USPTO.
At the USPTO, Rea was the senior official responsible for the administration's formulation and implementation of U.S. intellectual property policies, including patent, copyright, and trade secret issues. She met with the heads of patent offices with other countries throughout the world.
"Because of my international skill set, I can add value with what CMI does with their clients, and those policy, big-picture, international issues were a very comfortable place for me at the U.S. Patent and Trademark office," Rea said.
Rea, who is also a licensed pharmacist, said she looked at a number of firms to see where the fit would be best, and the pairing of the law and policy and regulation consulting side seemed "too obvious." Rea said she was ready to come back to private practice.
"I already got to see both sides, and I met new people, got new perspectives, new ways of looking at things, and with the benefit of that newfound knowledge and experience I thought I could make a very good contribution on this side," Rea said.
Rea originally joined Crowell & Moring as a partner in January 2008 from Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney. She left to join the USPTO in Feb.2011.
Rea's Nov. 21 departure from the USPTO leaves a void in agency leadership as the debate on Capitol Hill on major reforms to the patent system.