Patent and Trademark Office director to depart

Paul Sancya/AP

David Kappos has led the PTO since August 2009.

The director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, David Kappos, will be stepping down at the end of January, an agency spokesperson confirmed on Monday.

Kappos, who has led the PTO since August 2009, did not say what his plans are and the agency did not release an official announcement.

"I believe we have made great progress in reducing the patent backlog, increasing operational efficiency, and exerting leadership in [intellectual-property] policy domestically and internationally," Kappos said in a statement provided by PTO officials.

During his tenure, Kappos pushed Congress to enact the America Invents Act, then oversaw the implementation of the law, which was billed as the first major overhaul of the United States patent system in nearly 60 years.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., who championed the patent legislation, said that Kappos's departure is a loss for President Obama's economic team.

"Director Kappos was instrumental in the development and enactment of the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act," Leahy said in a statement. "He and his team have set the PTO on course to implement the key provisions of the act, which will improve the patent system for decades to come."

Kappos came to the PTO from IBM, where he was vice president and assistant general counsel for Intellectual Property.