14 April 2022Alex Baldwin

Vidal officially takes lead at USPTO

Kathi Vidal has officially taken the role of director of the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

At a ceremony on April 13, Vidal was sworn in as the new Under Secretary of Commerce for IP and the IP office’s new director and promised to promote “inclusive innovation and entrepreneurship”.

In taking the helm at the USPTO, Vidal will act as principal advisor to President Biden on domestic and international IP policy.

“I am excited to join America’s innovation agency. This nationwide workforce of more than 13,000 employees is one of the most talented and respected the world over, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to work with them to help bring more ideas to impact, including in key technologies and through inclusive innovation and entrepreneurship,” Vidal said.

Prior to joining the USPTO, Vidal served as managing partner of Winston & Strawn's Silicon Valley office and has represented clients on IP matters before the US district courts, the International Trade Commission, the USPTO and at appeals before the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit and the Supreme Court.

Vidal succeeds former permanent director Andrei Iancu who stepped down from the role in January 2021. Since then, the office has been headed by interim director Drew Hirshfeld, who will now serve as deputy director.

Vidal added: “I also want to thank Drew Hirshfeld for his invaluable leadership and commitment to the USPTO, and for his decades of distinguished service. I look forward to working closely with him in the months ahead.”

‘Reestablish American leadership’

As an adviser to the Biden administration, Vidal will report directly to US Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, who said that the USPTO will “benefit immensely” from Vidal’s leadership.

Raimondo said: “Kathi Vidal’s leadership and expertise will be instrumental in executing USPTO’s mission to protect and empower US entrepreneurs.

“Now more than ever, we need to expand opportunities for more innovators and reestablish American leadership in technological, scientific, and commercial innovation. We are so fortunate to bring Kathi on board, and I am confident that the Department will benefit immensely from her rich technical background and decades of patent experience.”

Vidal was officially confirmed as director last week in a Senate hearing.

She told senators she was “prepared for the challenges we face” and is committed to focusing the IP system to become one "in which the American people and our inventors, creators, and investors will have even more confidence”.

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