USPTO Welcomes New Director Kathi Vidal

On April 13, 2022, the USPTO welcomed Kathi Vidal as the new Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and agency Director, a role in which she will provide leadership and oversight to one of the largest intellectual property offices in the world. Vidal will serve as principal advisor to President Biden on domestic and international IP policy.

“Kathi Vidal’s leadership and expertise will be instrumental in executing USPTO’s mission to protect and empower U.S. entrepreneurs,” said Secretary Raimondo. “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.”

“I am excited to join America’s innovation agency,” said Director Vidal. “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. 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.” Hirshfeld, who was appointed Commissioner for Patents in 2015 and again in 2020, had been performing the functions and duties of Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO since January 20, 2021. At Director Vidal’s request, he will serve as her acting Deputy Director until a political Deputy Director is named. Hirshfeld recently announced his plans to depart government service this summer.

Prior to joining the USPTO, Director Vidal helped harness and protect innovation at all levels. Throughout her career, she has represented new innovators and startup companies with limited resources. She has also represented many of our country’s most successful and well-known companies. She was most recently a managing partner and Executive Committee member at Winston & Strawn LLP, where she represented both patent holders and defendants in U.S. district courts and the International Trade Commission. She has also been deeply involved in practice before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board, argued numerous Federal Circuit appeals, and led amicus efforts on important cases before the Federal Circuit and the Supreme Court. She has received many awards as a top litigator and was inducted into the Litigation Counsel of America, a society of the leading American trial lawyers. Before joining Winston & Strawn, she led a litigation group of 270 attorneys in 11 global offices at Fish & Richardson and sat on the firm’s Management Committee.

Director Vidal began her career as a systems and software design engineer with General Electric and Lockheed Martin, where she designed one of the first artificial intelligence systems for aircraft, as well as aircraft and engine-control systems that continue to keep our military safe today.

Director Vidal has spent her career championing the importance of mentoring and expanding opportunities to include more individuals from underserved communities. She has played an active role on the advisory board of ChIPs (women in policy, law, and technology) and on other boards and committees focused on diversity and inclusion, and has mentored diverse women across the globe as part of the Fortune-U.S. Department of State Global Women’s Mentoring Partnership program.

Director Vidal worked as a law clerk for Judge Alvin Anthony Schall on the United States Court of Appeal for the Federal Circuit. She holds a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering from Binghamton University, a Master of Science in electrical engineering from Syracuse University, and a Juris Doctor from the University of Pennsylvania where she was Editor-in-Chief of the University of Pennsylvania Law Review. Director Vidal grew up in a career military family and spent her informative years on military bases in the United States, Panama, Germany, and the Azorean Islands (Portugal). An avid marathoner and golfer, Director Vidal has also competed in crew, equestrian polo, and played volleyball at the collegiate level, among her many athletic accomplishments.

Read Vidal’s full bio on the USPTO website.