FacultyFaculty/Author Profile
David J. Kappos

David J. Kappos

Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP

New York, NY, USA


David J. Kappos is a partner at Cravath. He is widely recognized as one of the world’s foremost leaders in the field of intellectual property, including intellectual property management and strategy, the development of global intellectual property norms, laws and practices as well as commercialization and enforcement of innovation-based assets. Mr. Kappos supports the Firm’s clients with a wide range of their most complex intellectual property issues.

From August 2009 to January 2013, Mr. Kappos served as Under Secretary of Commerce and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). 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 the President in September 2011.

Prior to leading the USPTO, Mr. Kappos held several executive posts in the legal department of 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. Mr. Kappos joined IBM as a development engineer. During his more than 25 years at IBM, he served in a variety of roles including litigation counsel and Asia Pacific IP counsel, based in Tokyo, Japan, where he led all aspects of intellectual property protection, including licensing, transactions support and mergers and acquisitions activity for the Asia/Pacific region.

Mr. Kappos has received numerous accolades for his contributions to the field of intellectual property, including, among others, the 2013 Champion of Intellectual Property Award from the District of Columbia Bar Association and the 2013 North America Government Leadership Award from Semiconductor Equipment and Materials International (SEMI). He was named one of the 50 Most Influential People in Intellectual Property by Managing IP,one of the 100 Most Influential Lawyers in America by The National Law Journal, and Intellectual Property Professional of the Year by the Intellectual Property Owners Association. Mr. Kappos was inducted into the Intellectual Property Hall of Fame by Intellectual Asset Management Magazine and recommended in the 2013 edition of The Legal 500 in the Technology: Transactional category. He is also a frequent speaker and has authored many published articles on various intellectual property, innovation and leadership topics.

Mr. Kappos serves on the Boards of Directors of the Partnership for Public Service, the Center for Global Enterprise, and the Intellectual Property Owners Educational Foundation.

Mr. 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.
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