WASHINGTON—Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property (IP) and Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Kathi Vidal announced today that Vaishali Udupa, an intellectual property attorney, engineer, and currently a top executive from Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), will join the 13,000-person Department of Commerce agency as the new Commissioner for Patents effective January 17, 2023.
A nationally recognized and dynamic leader with over twenty years of experience in strategic IP advisement and complex litigation, Ms. Udupa brings a wealth of experience to the agency in areas of patent prosecution and litigation, global IP policy, and diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA). In the private sector, Vaishali secured multiple IP trial wins and managed numerous IP cases to favorable resolutions in the United States and abroad. She assisted in the development of patent and trademark portfolios and counseled internal clients regarding licensing deals, asset acquisitions and agreements involving IP rights. Before that, as an attorney in private practice, she participated in multiple IP trials and counseled clients with respect to their IP portfolios. Her technological experience includes, among others, electronic devices, telecommunication systems, computer software, electronic commerce, consumer products, sporting goods, and medical devices.
“As our agency continues its focus on bringing more individuals into the innovation ecosystem, especially more individuals from communities and areas across America that have yet to fully participate, clarifying rules on what creations are eligible for patents for the greater good of the patent system, and working with union leadership to further energize and invigorate our valued patent corps, I am confident Vaishali is the right leader for our esteemed Patents organization,” said Director Vidal. “Vaishali understands that the innovation system must work for all stakeholders. She also knows the importance of service and working with our colleagues in patents to foster innovation and opportunity. I am excited to work with her, the unions, and the rest of USPTO leadership and all our patents colleagues to advance policies and procedures that will incentivize and protect more innovation from across our great country, in every state and county.”
Throughout her career, Ms. Udupa has served as a leader with a proven track record of addressing diversity issues in the science, technology, and legal professions. She has sought to promote diversity and inclusion through pro-bono work and bar association involvement, including by serving as Honor Roll Committee Co-Chair of ChIPs, a nonprofit organization that advances and connects women in technology, law, and policy, volunteering with the Girl Scouts Council of the Nation’s Capital to provide young girls with their inventor patch, and teaching basic IP topics to DC high schoolers through the Street Law Program. Her efforts have received notice, including receiving the National Bar Association’s 2020 Diversity in Tech and IP Law award. She also maintains a keen interest in increasing entrepreneurship and the number of patents applied for and obtained by all inventors, including women, minorities, veterans, and those from rural, economically disadvantaged, and more areas that we’d like to include in our innovation ecosystem.
The Commissioner for Patents is a career position that oversees the agency’s 10,000 Patents employees, including more than 9,000 patent examiners responsible for fostering the country’s innovation system by providing patent protections to inventors as stated in Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution (“To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries”).
Ms. Udupa takes the reins of the Patents organization upon the retirement of Andrew Faile, acting Commissioner for Patents since January 2021, after more than 33 years at the agency.
“I want to thank Andy for his engaged, dynamic leadership over the past 33 years including recently as we worked to find new leadership. It is hard to imagine a USPTO without Andy. He embodies all that is great about our agency. I am sure you all share my feelings of gratitude and appreciation for all he has given to this great agency not only for stakeholders but also in helping me and the agency re-envision Patents for all our incredible colleagues,” said Director Vidal. “He has been an instrumental member of our leadership team and I’m grateful for his excitement and commitment to work with Vaishali to ensure a smooth transition.”