Vidal, who has been on the job for 10 months, said some of her goals for the agency include curbing any abuses of the system, creating more robust and reliable IP rights, cutting down barriers for inventors and increasing pro bono work. 

According to Vidal, women make up about 13% of all U.S. inventors. She said that when the USPTO meets innovators where they are and works with pro bono organizations to support them, that number jumps to 43% (up from 41% last year.) Those who benefit from pro bono and identify as African American or Black are up 5% to 35% this year. There is also more representation for those who identify as Hispanic, Asian American or Pacific Islander, and Native American. But, as Vidal noted, “We must do better.”    

Speaking on patent eligibility, she noted, “There are things you can’t patent in the U.S. that you can in other countries. That’s not good for the U.S. — that’s not good for innovation.”

She also plans to continue listening to stakeholders about what the USPTO and PTAB can do better moving forward to increase innovation. 

“I love dissenting views,” she said. “I think it’s what makes us better.”

Dosal said the opportunity to moderate the chat and hear directly from the USPTO’s director about the agency’s direction was “invigorating.”

“It seems clear the USPTO is interested in what stakeholders have to say,” she said. “It’s also nice to hear that diversity, equity, inclusion and access are important to them.” 

Like Dosal, third-year law student Matt Lutz plans to practice patent and IP law, which brought him to the event to hear directly from experts in his chosen field.

“This is one of the coolest things I’ve gotten to do during my time at ASU,” he said. 

Lindsay Walker

Communications Manager, Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law