Jan 5 2022

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) announced he will support the nomination of Kathi Vidal to be Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property.

“It’s a well-known fact that I strongly support the reforms taken by former Director Andrei Iancu to make the Patent Trial and Appeal Board a more fair and equitable forum for patent owners. Before Director Iancu’s reforms, the PTAB was rightly known as a place where big companies could game the system, engage in strategic and efficient infringement, and destroy the patent rights of small businesses and independent inventors. Thanks to Director Iancu’s leadership, the PTAB now protects small businesses and has finally achieved the balance Congress intended when we passed the America Invents Act.

“I’ve been clear from the beginning that any nominee for USPTO Director must commit to continuing and building upon these reforms to receive my vote. During Kathi Vidal’s confirmation hearing and in questions for the record, I asked tough questions on her views regarding these reforms and sought a simple yes or no commitment on if she would continue them. After reviewing her answers and talking with her one-on-one, I’m happy to say I’ve received such a commitment. 

“Our conversations have convinced me that Ms. Vidal will be the exact type of visionary leader we need to succeed Andrei Iancu and will work tirelessly to ensure all inventors get a fair shake before the USPTO. She understands we need to reform our nation’s patent eligibility laws to provide greater clarity, that inventors of all sizes depend on a fair and equitable IP system, and that strong intellectual property rights are the foundation of our economy. She knows that prior to Director Iancu’s reform, PTAB wasn’t the balanced forum Congress intended. She realizes that, absent the continuation of these reforms, bad actors like OpenSky Industries will use the PTAB as a form of strategic litigation to attack competitors. And, most importantly, she’s willing to listen to all stakeholders, big and small, and make decisions based on what is best for everyone and the patent system as a whole. 

“In addition to being a well-respected patent attorney, she possesses the management experience necessary to ensure the agency continues to provide high-quality services to all—whether assisting first-time patent and trademark applicants, providing policy advice to the Administration, or engaging with intellectual property offices around the world. She understands that we cannot take the United States’ leadership in innovation for granted and that a robust intellectual property system is essential for America’s future. 

“For all these reasons, that’s why I will proudly be voting to confirm Kathi Vidal as USPTO Director. I look forward to working with my colleagues and Leaders McConnell and Schumer to secure her confirmation.”