Kathi Vidal blog defines USPTO mission, highlights tools for inventors

Since her first official day as under secretary of commerce for intellectual property and director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on April 14, Kathi Vidal has set a tone of activity and inclusion.

That day, Vidal held a virtual town hall with thousands of USPTO employees. “I’ve been incredibly impressed with the hard work and diligence of USPTO staff,” she wrote in her blog, “and will continue listening to their thoughts on how to strengthen our Agency and, in turn, advance our nation’s economic standing.”

Along those lines, the blog is anchored by her definition of the USPTO’s mission and vision:

“Our intellectual property system is the engine that propels our economy. Our nation’s founders created this system to drive economic growth and foster a higher standard of living for all.

“Now more than ever, we need that growth and equity, and we need an intellectual property ecosystem that will cultivate an innovation mindset and be a catalyst for inclusive innovation, economic prosperity, U.S. competitiveness, national security, and world problem-solving. We need to incentivize and protect more innovation, especially in key technology areas, and bring that innovation to impact.

“While we work collaboratively with those within the USPTO, which comprises over one quarter of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s workforce, the Patent and Trademark Public Advisory Committees, sister agencies and stakeholders to develop the intellectual property roadmap to help propel our country forward, we are operating under a new, interim vision and mission. Our next step will be to roll out high level interim objectives for internal and public feedback.”

Less than two weeks after Vidal’s tenure began, the USPTO celebrated World IP Day on April 26.

“I began the day by meeting with second-grade students at Cora Kelly Elementary School in Alexandria (Virginia) to discuss their own invention ideas, as part of our commitment to reach great minds at every age,” Vidal wrote.

She attended another milestone event on May 5, recognizing the achievements of the 2022 class of National Inventors Hall of Fame (NIHF) inductees.

“These 27 incredible inventors hold a collective 1,772 patents and counting, and represent fields and backgrounds from communication technology to health and medicine, agriculture, and workplace safety,” the director wrote.

“Notably, for the first time ever, two Black women were inducted into NIHF: Dr. Marian Croak, for the development of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), which allows us to make calls directly from our computers or other WiFi-connected devices; and Dr. Patricia Bath (posthumous), for inventing laserphaco technology, which has improved the lives of millions of people suffering from vision problems by removing cataracts.”

Director Vidal’s blog also mentions the new DOCX format that makes it easier for patent applicants to file, as well as programs for under-resourced inventors and small businesses via the USPTO Patent Pro Bono Program and the 21 regional programs that support it. Please see uspto.gov/blog/director/entry/just-getting-started.