Oral Testimony of the Honorable Kathi Vidal Before a Hearing of the Senate

Remarks As Delivered

Oral Testimony of the Honorable Kathi Vidal

Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and

Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

Before a Hearing of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Intellectual Property

“Oversight of the United States Patent and Trademark Office”

July 26, 2023  2:30 p.m. ET


Chairman Coons, Ranking Member Tillis and members of the Subcommittee. Thank you for this opportunity to discuss the great work the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is doing. I must start by thanking you for your unwavering commitment and focus on our IP ecosystem. I am confident that together, we can shape IP policy and practices to be an even greater catalyst for job creation and opportunity in each of your states and across our great nation.

In addition to the transparent, data driven and surgical changes we have made - and intend to make this administration - to better support our stakeholders and the issues they face, there are a few key areas of focus I'd like to highlight.

First, the USPTO, like you, is focused on AI, including as related to patent protection and the copyrighted works that drive so much of our economy. I am working with the White House, the rest of Commerce, the Copyright Office and across government on AI policy, and see it is one of our greatest challenges and opportunities.

Second, as you well know and said, we need robust, reliable and transparent IP rights and efficient and effective enforcement, not just here but across the globe. The USPTO is working globally to strengthen the innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship ecosystem, to hold competitors to their agreements to curb abuses and unfair practices and to directly assist stakeholders facing IP issues abroad. At home, we are ensuring that the patents we issue continue to incentivize innovation and the trademark register is accurate so that businesses can assess and rely on those protections of our trademark laws.

Third, we are working across government on the intersection of IP and competition policy, including as related to standards to promote a strong IP ecosystem, while maintaining the U.S. as an entrepreneurial nation that promotes startups, small businesses and small enterprises. We are collaborating with the Food and Drug Administration and the United States Department of Agriculture to take into consideration the needs of small family farmers and the concerns of patient advocacy groups. The USPTO is committed to an all-of-government approach to leveraging IP rights to catalyze U.S. economic competitiveness and national security. We are doing that inclusively and forming the partnerships, relationships and alliances that will help us reach every corner of our country, including our schools, our military, military spouses and veterans, as well as opening new outreach offices under the Unleashing American innovators Act passed by Congress last year.

Mr. Chairman, I am honored and proud to be a part of the USPTO, an incredible agency with dedicated and knowledgeable public servants. As a steward of the agency, I must add as a fifth and last point that we are also working on reshaping the USPTO as a workplace centered around the values of purpose, opportunity, equity, inclusion and wellness to better serve the American public and stakeholder community. We are innovating America's innovation agency. We cannot do all we are doing without your collaboration. The USPTO is grateful that Congress continues to provide it with fee-setting authority, which enables the USPTO to continue to build, retain and effectively manage its workforce. We look forward to working with this committee to ensure USPTO maintains that authority.

In closing, we look forward to continuing to work with you and alongside you to use our intellectual property system to grow jobs in every community and to foster economic prosperity and innovations that will benefit all across our great country.

Thank you again for the opportunity to testify today and I look forward to your questions.