Remarks delivered at the USPTO headquarters
Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Kathi Vidal
April 13, 2022
Thank you, [Federal Circuit] Judge [Pauline] Newman. Thank you, [Federal Circuit Chief] Judge Kimberly Moore. I’m thrilled to be here today to serve our country and to lead this incredible agency, which is mission-critical to innovation and economic prosperity. I’m excited to serve at this important moment in history alongside all of you at the USPTO, those who are here, and those who are listening remotely.
I am privileged to be joined by Shira Perlmutter, who is here in the audience, who is leading the Copyright Office; Laurie Locascio, who got confirmed [as the Director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology] last week; and alongside Chief Judge Moore; and Judges Newman, Raymond Chen, Kara Stoll, and Leonard Stark, all of whom are here with us today.
We are serving at a unique moment in history.
The rate and increase of innovation is exceeding Moore’s Law. It is having global, ethical, and equity implications as never seen before. The types of innovation we are seeing today are the kinds of innovations that we, or at least I, read about as a kid, reading Isaac Asimov’s books, and others. Key innovations like the COVID vaccine are requiring collaboration and building on past inventions like we’ve never seen before.
While these are all challenges before us, they are also opportunities.
We must work together in the innovation ecosystem — the USPTO, the Administration, Congress, the Courts — to shape our country, not only for the technologies of today, but for the ones that are to come. We must solve current world problems, not only global warming and cancer, but the problems of the future.
As we sit here today, in the shadow of the banners of the 27 inventors who will be inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame next month, we have been given the opportunity to solve all the hard problems before us – and there are many – in a way that promotes more innovation for and from all, that protects that innovation both in the United States and in the global economy, and that importantly brings that innovation to impact.
I want to thank my sons, Liam and Trey, Matt, my mom, my sister, and my family who were there for me at the [Senate] confirmation hearing, along with my brother and the rest of my family. I would not be here without your support. I know that my constant need to take on challenges, to support other people and right inequities, and to focus broadly has had its toll. Thank you for your understanding. I love you and you are with me always.
I also want to thank President Biden, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, and the Administration, for having the faith in me to wake up every day and do what is right for this country. And for those of you who know me, you know that means waking up quite early in the morning.
I’d like to thank Judge Newman for showing us how to stand by your beliefs, to never equivocate, and to work hard with kindness and grace.
I’d like to thank Ralph Oman, who is sitting in the front row, the former Register of Copyrights. He sponsored me in the 90s, before sponsoring was a thing. I remember, Ralph, when you invited me to come to the Inn of Court and meet Judge Newman when I was still in law school. That forever changed the path of my destiny. So, thank you. I also love that you taught me inclusion, that you invited me and my family out to your house with your wife Anne. I remember that you invited those from your school whom you were teaching to your Thanksgiving dinners if they didn’t have a home to go to. I’m grateful for that, and to carry on the traditions that you have set.
I’m grateful to Chief Judge Moore and the Federal Circuit Judges Chen, Stoll, and Stark. First of all, I’m very grateful that you let me speak this long without interrupting. *laughter* I’m also grateful for their decades of public service and showing us how to work hard with integrity, and even in view of ambiguity, always working hard to get things right.
As Judge Moore noted, I have been on this journey with Judges Moore, Chen, and Stoll since we all clerked together at the Federal Circuit. Judge Stark and I worked together for decades teaching new judges how to manage patent cases. And Judge Moore, who is one of my closest friends, taught me the broader notion of family. She is the godmother to one of my children, and I am the godmother to one hers, and I feel that she has been a member of my family for decades.
I also want to thank Megan Smith and Coach Kemper. Megan Smith is in the audience, as is Coach Kemper. Megan, as I’m sure you know, is a former CTO of the United States. I want to thank them for continually being catalysts for innovation.
And I want to thank all the former Directors, including Andrei Iancu, who is here today, Michelle Lee, Dave Kappos, and all past Directors and others who served this great agency, including Todd Dickinson, who is no longer with us, and who was also, like Ralph, one of my mentors in the 1990s. We are here today to build on what you have done and to move our country forward.
And of course, I have to thank Drew Hirshfeld. Not only, Drew, for your decades of service but for your exceptional leadership; for your collegiality and your support and love for this agency.
To Emina and Alma, and to Alexandra Powers and my nieces and nephews at home, you are our future. They let me share this one story. I was at their house this week and they took me up to their playroom. And in their playroom, they have a contraption so that they can capture what the Tooth Fairy looks like. And I just thought it was so ingenious. And beyond that, they knew that your first plan doesn't always work, it doesn't always succeed. So, Emina made it very clear that when she runs out of teeth, we’ve got all of Alma's to go. And I also love that as part of their plan, they knew that if they couldn't catch a picture of the tooth fairy, perhaps they could prove she was invisible. So, keep thinking that way. Keep inventing. Keep coming up with creative ideas. You and all our children are the future, and we’re depending on all of you.
Our biggest scientific challenges are yet to come. We need all of the innovators of the future and all of the ones today to address them. I'm confident that if we work hard and together across the USPTO, the Administration, Congress, the Courts, and the private and public sector, we will turn those challenges into opportunities. Opportunities for prosperity, for economic growth, and for a better life for all.
USPTO, you — now “we” — are an incredible team. Our journey has just begun. Thank you.