Remarks by Director Kathi Vidal at the 2024 World IP Day Celebration on Capitol Hill

Kathi Vidal

Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and

Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office

World IP Day Celebration on Capitol Hill

May 1, 2024

As Prepared for Delivery

We are grateful for all of you for the role each of you play in supporting U.S. innovation and the American system of intellectual property protection and promotion. 

On this World IP Day, we come together to celebrate and reflect on how IP enables and accelerates the innovation that drives global, human progress including the goals outlined in the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

There is not one goal that can be fully realized, or realized at speed and scale, without a strong worldwide IP ecosystem. There is not one goal that can be fully realized, or realized at speed and scale, without greater participation in the IP ecosystem including from those who have been traditionally underrepresented in innovation and patenting. That is why, in honor of the auspicious day we are recognizing, the USPTO is unveiling the National Strategy for Inclusive Innovation.  

Across the Biden Administration, we have partnered with business, academia, government, and the public to craft a comprehensive strategy that serves as a blueprint for promoting inclusion and access throughout our business, governmental and education systems. The strategy aims to lift communities, grow the economy, create quality jobs, and address global challenges. 

It does this by increasing participation in STEM, inventorship and innovation among our youth and those from historically underrepresented and underresourced communities. I encourage everyone to read the new strategy and find ways to get involved. It is critical that we make entrepreneurship resources and support more widely available, coupled with increased commercialization support and channels for technology transfer.  

Our mission at the USPTO is not just to register trademarks and issue patents. We must as a country use those IP rights to get ideas to market especially in key technologies, and at an accelerated pace. We advance the work on the SDGs through our extensive work expanding the IP ecosystem and bringing more people into it. But we also advance them through all of our policies and initiatives across the globe to negotiate for and support a strong IP ecosystem.  

Whether through treaties, work sharing, or through our IP attachés – or through bilateral or multilateral cooperation with other nations – we have the SDGs constantly in mind. We've collaborated with the Federal Laboratory Consortium and AUTM to host a Green Tech Innovation Expo to match licensors of federally funded green energy technologies with green energy licensees. We’ve launched the Patents for Humanity Green Energy, and the Trademarks for Humanity “Trademarks and the Environment” award competitions to recognize and reward innovators, inventions, and brands that are combating climate change through clean technologies and practices. 

We have an MOU and close collaboration with our sister agency the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) — engaging in cross-training and work sharing to promote the commercialization of promising green technologies. We have accelerated patent examination with no fees to bring green tech innovations to market more quickly. And when the U.S. hosted a meeting of the world’s five largest IP offices last year, the entire focus was on working together on our planet. 

We need to and must do more to support the SDGs at speed and scale – and feel a sense of urgency. We issued a Request for Comments seeking input on ways we can better facilitate the commercialization of IP through technology transfer. We also established the USDA-USPTO working group to strengthen our cooperation and expand resources for assessing the patentability of seeds as part of our ongoing promotion of sustainable agriculture. 

People around the world look to the USPTO to lead on IP examination, policy, and engagement. We don’t want to let them down; we want to continue to “wow” them. On quality education, we are educating teachers across our nation to teach innovation and IP. Through Camp Invention and our work with the National Inventors Hall of Fame, we are teaching children across our nation the fundamentals of innovation and IP – over 370,000 last year alone. 

On poverty, decent work and economic growth, the USPTO provides significant resources to help small businesses and entrepreneurs secure critical IP protections. From our pro bono programs, free training seminars, network of 90+ Patent and Trademark Resources Centers in libraries across the country, and more, we support innovators and entrepreneurs with the IP protections that help drive the American economy. And we support programs that promote gender equality for women and girls, foster inclusive economic growth, and promote the sustainable management of our global resources. We are working across the Biden Administration to foster equity and prosperity, and strengthening the IP system so that more ideas will have impact. 

But we need your help. The key to achieving the SDGs is not just greater participation. It is greater participation combined with enhanced participation. That is where you come into play. When I think of the work we all do, there is one word that always comes to mind: impact. For everything we do. For every decision we make. For how we allocate our time. We measure all of it based on impact. 

Every one of you in this room is doing a lot. I know that. I would ask that you join us on our journey to make impact:

  • Working with your local school to bring a Camp Invention to your town will have a measurable impact on our future. Students who attend camp invention are not only more likely to go into STEM fields, they are more likely to graduate from high school and improve their attendance records and their grades. I’ve sent letters to superintendents across the nation and am happy to share that letter with you and connect you with someone who can help you get this moving. 
  • Connecting the teachers in your school with our resources for teachers including our monthly webinars will bring similar results into all our schools. 
  • Convincing your school or local library to join our PTRC program will result in your entire region having entrepreneurship and IP expertise, help and consulting at their fingertips. I’ve sent over 600 letters to libraries asking for libraries to join. I’m happy to send you a letter you can amplify or to create one before you. 

You can get involved in our pro bono programs actually doing the pro bono work or working with the team to find ways for our programs to offer more. You can mentor women entrepreneurs through our Women’s Entrepreneurship initiative or get involved in our work with the military.  And so much more. And thinking about how much more impactful all of that would be if you didn’t just do it alone but if you asked your company or law firm or organization – whether your workplace or affinity association – to get involved in helping us at speed and scale.  

I know you. If anyone can do it, you can. Together, I know we are committed to giving everyone, no matter where they are from, a chance to succeed and to contribute to creating the strongest, most resilient, innovative economy in the world. Together, we can tackle the pressing needs of our world. With your help, we can accomplish the UN’s sustainable development goals.