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Managing IP Winter 2021 is now live

Read about Kathi Vidal, AI legal decisions, trademark piracy in China, and much more in our digital-only quarterly

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A new era beckons at the USPTO as Kathi Vidal, managing partner of Winston & Strawn’s Silicon Valley office, looks set to become the office’s next director. She would be just the second woman to have held the role in more than 200 years.

However, we are being made to wait – Vidal may have been nominated by President Joe Biden, but she won’t be confirmed until the Senate says so. At the time of writing, that date is unconfirmed, and in the meantime the USPTO remains without a permanent leader despite the capable efforts of acting director Drew Hirshfeld, who is also patents commissioner.

With former director Andrei Iancu having departed in January 2021, it could be at least a year before we know whether Vidal will be the next director. That seems far too long.

Nonetheless, she would be a strong pick, at least according to the lawyers we have spoken to. Her leadership, managerial and litigation prowess will stand her in good stead for the role, our sources say, with one even describing her as a “powerhouse”.

That’s not to say, of course, that there won’t be challenging times ahead (assuming she is confirmed). Her biggest challenge will be managing the political turmoil surrounding discretionary denials at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board and the director review mandate set out by the Supreme Court in US v Arthrex. She may also have to manage the implementation of the Restoring the America Invents Act, should it be enacted by Congress.

You can read more about Vidal’s nomination and the road ahead in the cover story of this issue, which is our first digital-only quarterly. As you may be aware, we announced in October that we would no longer be printing magazines and would instead focus on fully digital products. There were a number of reasons for this change, not least the environmental concerns associated with printing and distributing publications globally.

Having said that, we are still able to offer this excellent issue in PDF form – and beyond the cover story mentioned above, you can find an array of expert analysis articles as well as the usual local insights updates from around the world. We hope you enjoy all of the content we have to offer.

Our next issue will be published in early 2022. The big question, though, is will we have a new USPTO director by then?

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