New Head for U.S. Patent & Trademark Office Confirmed by SenateApril 7, 2022

On April 5, 2022, the U.S. Senate confirmed Kathy Vidal as the new Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the US Patent & Trademark Office. The position had been vacant for over a year following President Biden taking office, though Drew Hirshfeld had been informally fulfilling the duties of the director. Vidal comes to the USPTO from nearly 25 years in private practice, in part as a litigator arguing patent appeals at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit Court, and serving for the past 5 years as managing partner at her law firm.

She has a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Binghamton University (New York), and a master’s degree in electrical engineering from Syracuse University. She received her law degree from the University of Pennsylvania. Vidal began her career as a software design engineer for General Electric, and then Lockheed Martin, working on artificial intelligence, software engineering, and circuitry.

Vidal is active in diversity education and service. She has served on the board of ChIPs (women in policy, law, and technology) and has worked with the U.S. Department of State’s Global Women’s Mentoring Partnership to mentor women from underdeveloped countries.

Vidal will lead the USPTO, with more than 13,000 employees and an annual budget of nearly $4 billion.

Kirk Hartung is a member of the Mechanical Patent Practice Group at McKee, Voorhees & Sease, PLC. For additional information please visit or contact Kirk directly via email at

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