USPTO adds key executives to leadership team

WASHINGTON – Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Kathi Vidal, along with newly sworn-in Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director of the USPTO Derrick Brent, today announced new staff additions and promotions to the senior team in the Office of the Under Secretary.

Shirin Bidel-Niyat was recently elevated to Chief of Staff. Previously as a Senior Advisor, Ms. Bidel-Niyat worked closely with Director Vidal on advancing Biden Administration priorities through cross-agency collaboration and initiatives to make positive impact both for external stakeholders and within the agency. Before joining the USPTO in 2021, Ms. Bidel-Niyat held a variety of roles as a political strategist with 18+ years of expertise branding issue and electoral campaigns. Most recently she served as the Associate Director for the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), one of the nation’s largest labor unions, directing legislative and electoral campaigns across the country on behalf of workers.

Russell Lopez joins the agency as its Chief Communications Officer (CCO), effective immediately. Prior to joining the USPTO, Mr. Lopez served as communications director for the California State Lottery, a position to which he was appointed by former Governor Jerry Brown. He began his 18 years of California public service as a senior deputy press secretary for former Governor Gray Davis and served as communications director for the Office of the State Controller. Before his career as a public servant, Mr. Lopez worked for a decade as an anchor/reporter for several California TV stations. Mr. Lopez brings with him decades of experience that enable him to work in and with the USPTO to expand innovation, including into underrepresented communities and help those communities find the resources to protect and benefit from that innovation.

Dede Zecher was recently promoted to Chief Advisor to the Director. A 15-year veteran of the agency, Ms. Zecher has worked in the Office of the Under Secretary since 2019 and helped lead the Agency through the transition period as the Acting Chief of Staff. She has collaborated on multiple projects including the development of initiatives outlined in the SUCCESS Act Report, the Public Advisory Committee nomination process, the coordination of COVID-19 relief, and the USPTO’s 2019 Revised Patent Subject Matter Eligibility Guidance. Ms. Zecher joined the USPTO as a patent examiner in 2006.

“I am so thrilled and fortunate that Shirin, Dede, and Russ have agreed to serve as part of my senior team, and I’m excited for what we will accomplish together on behalf of the American people,” said Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and USPTO Director Kathi Vidal. “They are each uniquely skilled, smart, and are incredible assets to our agency and our country. They will work with Deputy Director Brent and me, and the rest of our great team here at the USPTO, to move our agency forward as we foster inclusive innovation, enhance economic prosperity, and work as a catalyst to solve world problems.”

“I’m excited to roll up my sleeves and work with this great leadership team on behalf of America’s innovators,” said Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director of the USPTO Derrick Brent. “I know we will do great things together.”

For more bios of USPTO executives, visit the USPTO website.

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harryray