David J Kappos
David J Kappos is Co-Chair of the Intellectual Property Practice. 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 Cravath’s clients with a wide range of their most complex intellectual property issues, including those pertaining to blockchain and financial technology (FinTech) as well as data security and privacy.
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, the Secretary of Commerce and the Administration on intellectual property policy matters. As Director of the USPTO, he led the Agency in dramatically re‑engineering 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 President Obama 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 chief intellectual property lawyer. In that capacity, he managed global intellectual property activities for IBM, including all aspects of patent, trademark, copyright and trade secret protection and exploitation. 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 2014 Global Agenda Council Vision Award for the Intellectual Property Council’s pro bono initiative from the World Economic Forum, the 2014 Jefferson Medal from the New Jersey Intellectual Property Law Association (NJIPLA), the 2013 Board of Director’s Excellence Award from the American Intellectual Property Law Association (AIPLA), 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 also honored as the inaugural recipient of IPWatchdog’s Paul Michel Award in 2021. Mr. Kappos was named one of the “Top 25 Icons of IP” by Law360, one of the “50 Most Influential People in Intellectual Property” and the “Outstanding Practitioner of the Year in IP Transactions” by Managing IP, one of the “Top 50 Intellectual Property Trailblazers & Pioneers” and one of the “100 Most Influential Lawyers in America” by The National Law Journal, “Intellectual Property Professional of the Year” by the Intellectual Property Owners Association and inducted into the Intellectual Property Hall of Fame by Intellectual Asset Management Magazine in 2012. Mr. Kappos was also recognized as a leading lawyer by IAM Global Leaders, IAM Strategy 300, IAM Patent 1000, World IP Review, The Legal 500 US, Who’s Who Legal: Patents, LMG Life Sciences, Lawdragon, Super Lawyers and The Best Lawyers in America. He is 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 Education Foundation and on the Advisory Board for C-IP2. He is the Chair of the Advisory Council of the Naples Roundtable, and the U.S. Chair of the U.S.‑China IP Cooperation Dialogue. He is also an Adjunct Professor at Cornell Law School, where he teaches legal advising for the start‑up general counsel.
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.