On October 26, 2021, President Biden nominated Kathi Vidal – the managing partner of Winston and Strawn’s Silicon Valley office – as Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Ms. Vidal is considered to be highly qualified for the position. She is nationally recognized as a leading IP litigator with an electrical engineering background and extensive experience representing patentees and patent challengers alike before the PTAB and in federal courts. If confirmed by the Senate, Ms. Vidal will fill the vacancy left by former Director Iancu in January 2021, and as Director she will assume the authority to review PTAB rulings pursuant to the Supreme Court’s decision in U.S. v. Arthrex, Inc. To date, comments from the Senate Judiciary intellectual property subcommittee regarding Ms. Vidal’s nomination have been mixed. For example, Senator Leahy (D-Vt.) congratulated Ms. Vidal and looks forward to discussing her goals for the agency, while Senator Tillis (R-N.C.) appears to be taking a “wait and see” approach, pending review of Ms. Vidal’s record and commitment to continuing the last Administration’s reforms. We will continue to report on developments throughout the confirmation process, including how this might affect practice at the PTAB.
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