Looking Through the Leadership Lens: Trademark Office Leadership in an Evolving Landscape

Published: April 14, 2021

Mari-Elise Paul Stites & Harbison, PLLC Louisville, Kentucky, USA INTA Bulletins—North America Subcommittee

INTA recently premiered its first webcast in its “Looking Through the Leadership Lens” series, which features industry officials providing unique perspectives on leadership and development topics.

Moderated by 2021 INTA President Tiki Dare, the March 18 webcast featured Commissioner for Trademarks at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) David Gooder, Director General of the Canadian Intellectual Property Office Mesmin Pierre, and President Cláudio Vilar Furtado of the Instituto Nacional da Propriedade Industrial Brazil.

Titled “Trademark Office Leadership on Confronting Challenges in an Evolving Landscape,” the session primarily explored how the panelists tackled the challenges facing their Offices during the current pandemic.

The leaders shared how this historic time has shifted their decision-making priorities and affected traditional work expectations. For example, each speaker described how he had to make decisions to accommodate remote work needs and account for shifts in filings and revenue.

Further, the leaders discussed how the pandemic has provided a unique opportunity to recognize the need to adapt, to think more broadly about what work looks like in the future, and to value dynamic skills. These dynamic skills include the ability to mobilize people, collaborate, promote innovation, and guide change while driving innovation in the organization.

The panelists also recognized the importance of being socially aware as an organization and as a leader, as well as the importance of recognizing the impact of the organization on individuals.

Providing a more personal view, the panelists also shared the paths they took to arrive at their present leadership roles and what they most want to be remembered for in their current positions. The answers were both tangible and intangible impacts and included some humor.

Mr. Pierre said he wants to be remembered for leaving the Canadian system as more modern and service-oriented, with more transparency and client-focus. Mr. Gooder wants to modernize the IT system of the USPTO and to make the USPTO a place where employees can thrive. He also wants to make sure the USPTO’s Register is better protected. Mr. Furtado wants to be known for helping with his agency’s turnaround time and reduction of backlog.

Mr. Pierre quipped about being remembered as the “pandemic commissioner.” Mr. Gooder joked that when he leaves, his staff will be thrilled that “he’s no longer asking ‘why’ about everything.”

The webcast concluded with each panelist providing a piece of leadership advice. Mr. Furtado suggested that leaders should “manage by example,” while Mr. Gooder recommended that leaders “push the power down” to team members to empower them. Mr. Pierre advised leaders to “leave the organization better [than they found it] and take care of people.”

The webcast is available on demand on INTA TO-GO, exclusively for INTA members.

Although every effort has been made to verify the accuracy of this article, readers are urged to check independently on matters of specific concern or interest. 

© 2021 International Trademark Association