Longtime Commissioner of Patents Drew Hirshfeld announced today that he plans to leave the USPTO this summer. Until that point, he will likely serve as Acting Deputy Director to help Kathi Vidal hit the ground running as she begins her tenure as USPTO Director. Hirshfeld writes:
Kathi Vidal … is, without a doubt, the right person to lead the USPTO. Not only is she highly qualified, but she has also repeatedly shown me and so many others how thoughtful and steadfast she is in her determination to do the right things for this agency and our nation’s inventors and entrepreneurs. She will be a great leader. . . . I cannot think of a better way to conclude my time at the agency than by helping Kathi in any way I can before a permanent deputy director arrives.
In this structure, Andy Faile will stay on as acting Commissioner for Patents until a new Commissioner is appointed by the Secretary of Commerce. 35 U.S.C. 3 (“The Secretary of Commerce shall appoint a Commissioner for Patents . . . for a term of 5 years.”). Dave Berdan has been serving in the role of deputy director under Hirshfeld. Berdan will likely return to his role as General Counsel — pushing Will Covey back to his permanent role of Deputy General Counsel and Director for the Office of Enrollment and Discipline (OED).