Limits to Administrative Appointments

IDEA, Vol. 50, p. 121, 2009

5 Pages Posted: 15 Jul 2008 Last revised: 21 Oct 2010

See all articles by Thomas G. Field

Thomas G. Field

University of New Hampshire School of Law (formerly Franklin Pierce Law Center)

Date Written: August 15, 2008


This comment briefly explores the constitutionality of appointments to two adjudicatory boards within the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office as well as appointments to the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB). It offers alternative bases for finding that the PTO appointments satisfy the dictates of Freytag v. Commissioner, IRS. It also explains why appointments to the CRB clearly satisfy Freytag.

It further discusses recent amendments to the Patent and Lanham Acts that (1) alter authority for future appointments, (2) permit ratification of prior appointments and (3) purport to make any challenge to decisions of suspect appointees subject to the de facto officer doctrine.

Besides expressing skepticism about the effectiveness of the third legislative initiative, it concludes that prior decisions of suspect appointees are more likely than not to be upheld.

The published version reflects the outcome of subsequent, potentially significant litigation involving the CRB.

Keywords: administrative appointments, Freytag, copyright, patent, trademark, BPAI. TTAB, CRB, de facto officer doctrine

JEL Classification: K10, K20

Suggested Citation

Field, Thomas G., Limits to Administrative Appointments (August 15, 2008). IDEA, Vol. 50, p. 121, 2009. Available at SSRN:

Thomas G. Field (Contact Author)

University of New Hampshire School of Law (formerly Franklin Pierce Law Center) ( email )

Two White Street
Concord, NH 03301
United States

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