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Judges Question Scope of Vacancy Act in Dispute Over Patent Head

March 30, 2022, 6:01 PM

Judges pressed attorneys on the scope of a federal law that allows a government employee to temporarily perform the functions of an agency leader during a vacancy, in a case centering on the power of the current head of the patent office.

A U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit panel seemed skeptical that Commissioner Drew Hirshfeld doesn’t have the power to review administrative patent challenges. Hirshfeld is performing the duties and functions of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office director while President Joe Biden’s nominee awaits Senate confirmation.

Judge Raymond T. Chen questioned the government on what the ...