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agencies, and I could not break through the bureaucratic redtape and built-in resistances to the point where I could accomplish the degree of improvement that I thought was necessary.
The request for expert assistance was intended to help solve these problems. I later found, when the report came to my attention, shortly before I left the office, that the report was prepared on a basis that reflected nothing of its genesis. It purported to identify to me the problems which I had identified in the first place in my request—the inference being that I had in fact been deficient in, presumably, failing to recognize the existence of these problems.
What I am suggesting is that that whole situation—with respect to the report and the study on which it was based-may be symptomatic of the fluff that surrounded whatever reality may have been responsible for the actual request for my resignation. The words I heard and the report itself seem artificial, contrived, and for the most part irrelevant.
I was not asked for a resignation on the spot. The request was that by the following Monday, May 14, I return with a draft letter or resignation. It was of course to be addressed to the President. It was stipulated that it was to be effective June 30.
The suggestion was made that I refer in it simply and generally to a desire to return to private life. The suggestion further was made that, in the meantime, I seek employment elsewhere. I explained in response that it was very difficult for me to cope with a situation I didn't understand, and it was very difficult for me to take seriously the suggestion that I seek employment while in government employ, and particularly so for the reason that I was facing the necessity to be in Vienna for the Vienna Diplomatic Conference from approximately the middle of May until the middle of June. To no avail. The request was insisted on, that I return the following Monday, May 14, with the draft letter of resignation.
I withdrew on that basis, pondered, and concluded that I could not submit a resignation under those circumstances. I did, in fact, prepare a letter explaining how I felt on that point and stating my position that I felt in any event my obligations to the patent community, and to the President who had appointed me, were such that I could not so resign without a full understanding.
I planned to meet with the Assistant Secretary on Monday, May 14, but could not do so because she was then en route to Washington from Seattle. And as it happened, the following day, May 15, was the last day on which I could possibly leave for Vienna and still get there in time to perform my function as head of our delegation, and meet with our people for 1 day in preparation for the formal opening of the conference the following day. So faced with the request that I have spoken of, faced with the time frame I have just indicated, and working against the background of the June 30 date which she had stipulated, I thought probably the best thing I could do would be to go over and get the things started at the conference, and deal with this problem later, having no doubt that I could. But not so. Tuesday morning in telephone conversations, the message came to me. I would use the words of that message rather exactly at this point: This memorandum came to me addressed to Commis
sioner from Mickey Jo, one of the secretaries in the office, dated May 15. The content:
Helen Snyder from Dr. Anker Johnson's office called at 8:50 o'clock to say that they had been left a note by Dr. Anker Johnson to be transmitted to you as follows: "Mr. Gottschalk is not to leave the country without seeing Dr. Anker Johnson. Please be sure that he understands this.” Dr. Anker Johnson is at NBS this morning at a symposium and Ms. Snyder says if you get in touch with her there, it would probably be best to call Dr. Roberts' office.
Well, I tried, indeed I tried, to reach her. Eventually there was a break in the symposium, and I spoke with the Assistant Secretary for approximately 3 to 5 minutes on the telephone. She was very insistent that I would not be permitted to leave the country without having submitted the resignation that she requested. I pointed out that she was putting me to a choice, and that I felt constrained to fulfill my obligations with respect to the treaty—that on the one hand, and my job on the other. She insisted that, treaty or no treaty, she was determined that my resignation be handed in that day. I felt that, as a practical matter, I had no choice but to submit the resignation that was requested and I did, under exactly those circumstances.
You have referred to trade press reports. There was one column which recited briefly and essentially accurately the substance of what I have just related with respect to the specific mechanics of that request.
I turn back to the Friday afternoon of the week of May 7 to report that late that Friday afternoon at approximately 5:30 p.m. I succeeded for the first time in meeting with the Secretary. I told him what happened. He listened with no visible reaction, made no comment, and when I concluded my statement, stated simply that since the Assistant Secretary had responsibility for the operation of the Patent Office, he had no choice but to sustain her decision as a proper exercise of her authority. That is all that I can really tell you about how. It's practically all I can tell you about why.
. Now I must say that I do favor some legislative clarification of the patent antitrust questions concerned with licensing. I must say also that I think it rather important that there be early enactment of patent legislation. I had suggested—but only in the course of what I would consider appropriate conference discussion within the executive branch-the view I held, that the early enactment of patent legislation was of such importance that, in my opinion at least, it should not be delayed by insisting upon the enactment at the same time of legislation dealing with these licensing questions. So far as I know that was never taken to be an objectional utterance. As far as I can recall, no criticism of that approach was expressed, then or later.
Now I have spoken to one question you have raised. It obviously has a bearing on my feelings and views with respect to the other, the status of the Patent Office as an independent agency.
Senator Hart. Well, let me interrupt you here if I may, Commissioner. In part this is a reaction to Mr. Brennan's appropriate statement. The subcommittee has authorized these hearings in order to yet reactions specifically to five points in the reform proposal. One
of those points in the desirability of a restructuring of the Patent Office and should it be an independent agency? My conscience is clear to the extent that we are authorized to take testimony, including the experience you related, as it bears on that one item and that is the independent agency question. The hearings were not authorized to investigate the circumstances of your dismissal.
So, I welcome your turning now to the general observations that you will make with respect to the provisions for an independent office and I think all of us would understand that your general observations necessarily are colored by the circumstances that you have just described.
Mr. GOTTSCHALK. Thank you, Senator. I turn now to matters that are a little easier for me to discuss.
I think I must say that the Patent System which is of great concern to us all, has been my life work for more than 40 years. I believe in our patent system. I have said many times that I think it is sound in principle, morally right and extremely important. I am totally dedicated to it because I believe it does for this country what we need to have done. I think it is not doing it as well as it should. I am very anxious and concerned to improve it. This has been the thrust of my activities in the Patent Office.
I am very much in sympathy with the drive to accomplish, at long last, some of the things that we have begun, increasingly, to recognize as necessary and important. In my own work in the Patent office I have tried to act accordingly to my own conviction that there is a need to ventilate and to make more effective, the entire patent examining procedure. We have made a start, within the limits of time and in the absence of legislation, toward the interpartes proceeding. We have initiated efforts that concern completeness of file wrapper, to break down the barriers of secrecy that properly and understandably infuriate and puzzle so many. What I am saying is that as we approach patent legislation, I find it a source of gratification that we can anticipate the early reporting of a patent bill long overdue and much needed.
I believe in the importance of improving the system. I think that legislation is required. I am enthusiastic about the prospects of having a better patent system based on better legislation.
But before I address myself directly to the matter of the independent agency, Senator, I think that there is a preliminary question that needs to be considered. I think we have to recognize that the difficulties experienced with the patent system, with which we are all familiar, and which we are trying to correct, are not to be attributed—certainly not in their totality--to shortcomings in our present legislative structure. And by the same sign, I think it would be quite a mistake to suppose that by the enactment of appropriate patent legislation these difficulties would necessarily be resolved. Not so. Something more-something far more basic—is required.
As I view it, that something is good administration-stability, the ability to do the job, to do it well, and to do it consistently. One of the things that Senator McClellan commented on in his remarks introducing S. 1957 was the fact that during his tenure as chairman of this subcommittee there had been five Commissioners of Patents; and he was concerned, quite properly about the high turnover and the short tenure with respect to the Commissioners'position. In my 3 years in the Patent Office there were of course two Commissioners but there were three Secretaries, and there were four people in the position of Assistant Secretary for Science and Technology.
Senator Hart. Over what period ? Mr. GOTTSCHALK. Three years. With every change in personnel, with every change in policy, in the Department of Commerce, shock waves permeated and had their impact on the Patent Office. We had to react to the new personalities. We had to react to the new programs. We had to participate in a different way and about different things.
So against that factual background, which indicates the general instability of the situation, I would turn to this matter of administration, which I consider to be absolutely vital, and which I think is inadequately understood and appreciated and all too often overlooked.
I was very gratified, earlier in the course of these proceedings, to note the committee's sensitivity in these very areas. The inquiries appropriately directed to such things as the quota system, for example, are not within the five points listed, but bear most importantly on the very essence of what the patent examining function is all about. There can be no mistake about it, the patent examining funetion is the raison d'etre of the Patent Office, and the Patent Office is the very heart of the patent system.
As a matter of administrative efficiency, I think we would all agree that good communications are very important. In that connection, I was interested to note the sensitivity and the insight of the committee as reflected by its interest in probing the disparities which seemed to appear between the views taken by the management of the Patent Office and the Department of Commerce on the one hand, and the Patent Office examiners themselves on the other. I felt, and perhaps others did, that that was rather significant. It pointed up something I have experienced, and that is the compartmentalization of thought and of action in the Patent Office in every respect--the preoccupation with self and one's own functions, the inability to see the large picture, and to understand the goals and cooperate in the accomplishment of the Patent Office mission. It is these precise things to which I have been directing during my tenure my primary attention. These are the things in which I have been placing primary emphasis. It is most important to understand that when you ask questions having to do with the existence or nonexistence of a quota system and try, as apparently you did Senator, for 2 days and fail to get a satisfactory response, it is indicative of a situation which applies to more questions than just the one then under consideration.
The Patent Office is a wonderfu institution. It is hard for me to put in words the feeling as well as the regard I have for it and what it has meant to this country. Perhaps that is the reason that I am so very disturbed, as I have been from time to time, by the seeming indifference or the seeming opaqueness of individuals who play important roles in what it does, who are all too often inclined to think of themselves as performers of daily tasks rather than as people contributing importantly to the achievement of national goals. One of the lines that I have used repeatedly in my efforts to reach the employees of the Office has been that we are not to think of ourselves as laying bricks but as building a cathedral.
Now there have been remarkable changes in personnel attitudes and in morale and this has been very important in achieving the kind of administration on which the successful operation of a Patent Oflice depends. I would be the last to discount and the first to praise the importance of the professional input at the Patent Office. But it is a fact of life that the professionals' tasks cannot be well performed unless the support functions are carried out adequately. It is rather ridiculous to expect the public to have confidence in a Patent Office which can't deliver documents as promised, which have been ordered and paid for-which purports to issue patents on a certain day, and which cannot make copies of them available for weeks after their official date of issue-an office in which files are lost, literally, so that they cannot become available for the further processing of the claims that are so important to the applicants who filed them. It was a Patent Office of that kind which I encountered, and it was to overcome difficulties of those and many other kinds to which I directed my efforts. It is against that kind of background that I speak with feeling to the matter of the importance of administration.
It seems to me—I might say that these remarks from which I will read in an attempt to conserve the time of the committee at this point were prepared in a totally personal and totally different context and they have no relationship to the totally unanticipated appearance I am making before this committee this morning. But it seemed to me that what I said then is what I would in any event say to this committee now.
I was saying that we need to look beyond legislation to good administration. At the very least, I would say this requires close, critical, and continuing scrutiny of, first, the tools, the skill, and the procedures employed in the operations of the Patent Office; second, the criteria used to measure product quality and examiner performance; and third, the motivational and the attitudinal factors affecting performance of the professional and support personnel. Such review must be supplemented by appropriate remedial action; and the process of review and improvement must be pursued relentlessly. Some progress along these lines has been made, but much more remains to be done if the integrity and effectiveness of any form of patent examination process is to be insured.
Consider, as an example, the admittedly unacceptable state of the critically important Patent Office search files. Now, it is extremely important to recall that the search files in the U.S. Patent Office are unique. This is the only place in the country where classified files which permit an effective and efficient search can be found. Files exist elsewhere but they are not comparable in scope or in arrangement or in effectiveness. A peculiar responsibility rests upon the Patent Office therefore to insure the completeness, the integrity, and the effectiveness of those files.