by Dennis Crouch
The Secretary of Commerce recently appointed Derrick Brent as Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office. As here, the Deputy Director, Brent will serve as the principal advisor to Dir. Vidal. His key role will likely be in helping Dir. Vidal navigate the political side of the office as well as substantial outreach.
Deputy Dir. Brent is a mechanical engineer (OSU) and lawyer (Northwestern) and also a musician. After law school, Brent worked both for Vorys Sater and then the USDOJ before being recruited as Senior Counsel by Sen Boxer where he spent lots of time on the America Invents Act. Since 2012, Brent has been working as in-house counsel or doing similar consulting work.
His diverse professional experience has included Senior Counsel for U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer, Senior Trial Attorney in the Department of Justice, and Associate at Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease LLP. His work has principally focused in litigation and policy related to intellectual property, civil rights, employment and commercial law.
Deputy under secretary and deputy director.— The Secretary of Commerce, upon nomination by the Director, shall appoint a Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office who shall be vested with the authority to act in the capacity of the Director in the event of the absence or incapacity of the Director. The Deputy Director shall be a citizen of the United States who has a professional background and experience in patent or trademark law.
35 U.S.C. 3. Additional Leadership Changes:
- Longtime USPTO leader Drew Hirshfeld left the agency this summer and has now joined the Schwegman firm.
- Andrew Faile is Deputy Commissioner for Patents and has stepped-up to serve as Acting Commissioner until the Secretary of Commerce appoints a new Commissioner. The statute provides a 5-year term for the Commissioner once appointed. Although the position requires a political appointment, it is most-often an internal hire because the Commissioner really needs to understand Office complexities.
- Shirin Bidel-Niyat is Dir. Vidal’s chief of staff. Bidel-Niyat is a relative newcomer to the office — having joined in 2021 as a Senior Advisor. Her role will likely involve substantial internal political strategy and White House interfacing.
- Longtime PTO employee Dede Zecher had been acting chief of staff and is now Chief Advisor to the Director. Zecher is a former patent examiner, SPE, and advisor to the Deputy Commissioner.
- The PTO also has a new Chief Communications Officer (CCO), Russell Lopez. Lopez has spent his career as doing communications for various California gov’t authorities.
- David Berdan has moved back to his role as USPTO General Counsel. The GC’s office has three Deputy GCs: (1) Will Covey who is also Director of OED; (2) David Shewchuk who runs the “office of general law” — handling non-IP issues; and (3) Thomas Krause who is the USPTO Solicitor.