Working to Make Our Intellectual Property System Drive an Innovation Economy

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Director’s Message

Kathi Vidal

Working to Make Our Intellectual Property System Drive an Innovation Economy

Earlier today, I was sworn in by Chief Judge Kimberly A. Moore of the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit as the new Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). I am both honored and excited to lead America’s Innovation Agency and to move our Country forward.

As Director, I want to begin a dialogue on steps we can take together to expand, protect, and commercialize U.S. innovation. Over the next few months, I plan to engage with and listen to as many stakeholders as I can. I want to hear from creators, inventors, entrepreneurs, and all those with big dreams from every walk of life, in every state and region—especially those who have historically lacked access to, and opportunities for equitable participation in, our intellectual property (IP) economy.

The current Administration, including Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, recognizes that innovation is the key to unlocking our future. Under this Administration, the USPTO advanced the Council for Inclusive Innovation (CI2), which Secretary Raimondo chairs and I am excited to vice-chair. The USPTO has spent significant time and effort expanding programs in innovation education and outreach. We also maintain four regional offices across the country and an Eastern Regional Outreach Office within our headquarters, all of which provide IP-related outreach, training, and opportunities for all Americans. Under Drew Hirshfeld’s leadership, the USPTO has solicited comments on key issues related to our IP ecosystem, worked to improve patent quality, and taken the first steps to implement the Trademark Modernization Act.

While progress has been made, there is much more to do.

We need to foster and harness more U.S. innovation and improvements to existing and critical emerging technologies, especially in key areas like biotechnology, artificial intelligence, quantum computing, clean technologies, and semiconductors, to name a few. We need to meet people where they are and teach and incentivize innovation in our schools, universities, and communities and encourage the emergence of additional innovation hubs. We need to work to promote and protect more innovation in our companies and for U.S. companies to invest more in U.S.-based production. We need to create incentives to spur a new era of innovation, entrepreneurship, and creativity from every region of the Country and across gender, race, identity, socioeconomic class, and veteran status, as well as among all other groups that have been underserved and overlooked. Critically, we need to ensure we are incentivizing, protecting, and bringing to impact key innovations while minimizing inappropriate opportunistic behavior.

Innovation, incentivized by the protections our IP system provides, offers one of our greatest opportunities to create jobs, enhance our national security, and improve the welfare of all.

There are a number of important issues that require attention that affect various stakeholders, industries, and entities of varied sizes in different ways.

Though all these issues require attention, we must also be careful and deliberate. It is now time for me to hear directly from the skilled team at the USPTO and other stakeholders and begin to shape solutions that advance our shared objectives of promoting U.S. innovation and competitiveness while deterring abuses and gamesmanship. 

Finally, I want to thank Drew Hirshfeld for his invaluable service and leadership performing the functions and duties of the Director. Drew has kept the Agency moving in a steady, constructive, and positive direction during a very busy period. I am thrilled and grateful that he has graciously agreed to serve as acting Deputy Director before he departs government service this summer.

I invite all those who would like to share their thoughts and ideas to reach out, and an individual from my office will follow up with you.

I look forward to working with all stakeholders on the great challenges and opportunities before us.

Let’s get to work.

Kathi Vidal signature

Kathi Vidal

Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office