Founder and CEO, IPWatchdog, Inc.
It is with tremendous sadness that I write today to say that Q. Todd Dickinson passed away on Sunday, May 3, 2020.
As I choke back tears, staring at my computer screen, I find myself at a loss for words to describe someone who has been a friend for so many years, both to Renée and I personally and to IPWatchdog. I mourn not only a great man who, through his many accomplishments, did much domestically and internationally within the intellectual property world, but I also mourn one of my best, truest friends.
Perhaps the one thing that summarizes my friend best is the fact that he was known by one name – Todd. Like Madonna or Lebron or Tiger, only a select few can truly be identified by one name without causing any confusion as to who is meant. Todd was such a person, and occasionally his friends would tease him at events when he introduced himself as “Todd Dickinson”—as if “Todd” wasn’t enough.
Many will remember Todd as the former Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office during Bill Clinton’s second term, a job that he would tell me on the record during one of our many interviews was the best job of his life. Every morning, as he would drive into work, he would anticipate how today he might make a decision, or two, that would improve the system. He was always looking to improve the patent system in any way that he could.
Todd was USPTO Acting Director when I received my Patent Attorney Registration Number, so his is the signature that authorized me to become a member of the patent bar. Years later, after he had also become a good friend, I always thought it was a great honor to have my friend’s name on my registration.
During his four-decade legal career, Todd served as Chief IP Counsel for two Fortune 50 companies, having overall corporate responsibility for all IP, including the management of extensive patent and trademark portfolios. Todd also served as the Executive Director of the American Intellectual Property Law Association (AIPLA), an association of more than 15,000 members, and one of the world’s leading policy and advocacy organizations in the field of intellectual property, where he played a key role in the drafting and passage of the America Invents Act and the subsequent PTO rules, including all aspects of post-grant review.
Whether it was planning a new patent prosecution program, handling an appeal or amicus brief at the Supreme Court or Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, or understanding the effect of the latest IP legislation on your company, few attorneys offered such a breadth of experience in both in-house IP management and domestic and global IP policy matters and government relations.
I could tell many stories about my times together with Todd, but the one that always stands out and I will always cherish is one particular evening in San Francisco at the Palace Hotel. It was a chance meeting with several of us there for one conference and several others there for a different event, but all of us staying at the same hotel. We drank for hours, told stories, laughed, and that was probably the most enjoyable night I’ve ever spent on the road.
I look forward to someday raising a glass with him again. For now, cheers, Todd! I will miss you very much, my friend.
Renée C. Quinn
COO and CFO, IPWatchdog, Inc.
When I learned of our friend’s passing today, I instantly started to cry. I will never forget the first time I met Todd. It was in the spring of 2010. Gene was traveling on business, so in his absence I attended Judge Paul Michel’s retirement dinner. This was the very first IP event I had ever gone to, and I had not yet met anyone in the IP community myself. I knew David Kappos, as Gene had just done an article about him the week before. So, I introduced myself to him, and not knowing anyone, I asked him if he minded me joining him at his table. He turned around to some guy and said, “Hey Todd, do we have room for one more at our table?” He responded: “Of course we do!” with a big smile on his face!
I sat between David and Todd. But it wasn’t until about 20 minutes into the event when someone approached him and said, “Hello Mr. Dickinson” that I realized that this was THE Todd I was sitting next to. I was so excited I texted Gene right away to say, “OMG, You will never guess who I am sitting with! I’m sitting between David Kappos and Todd Dickinson!” to which Gene teases that I invited myself to the head table. Gene had always spoken so highly of Todd, and seeing the sheer respect he received from those who approached him, I knew he was a rockstar. But during dinner that night, he was just so down to earth and easy to talk to. And through the years, even though we knew just how important he was to the IP community, whenever we’d see him—whether he was participating in one of our webinars or live events, when we saw him at other events in D.C. and across the country, or when he came to our home for our BBQs —when we talked with him, he was not only our colleague, but also our friend. So much so, that he and his husband Robert, were present at our home as we renewed our wedding vows on our 10th anniversary.
We were blessed to have you in our lives as long as we did and we will certainly miss you!
Editor-in-Chief, IPWatchdog, Inc.
Since the beginning of my career covering IP news and law, Todd’s was a name that was much revered in IP circles. We speculated and investigated what the “Q.” stood for and raced to get him on the phone first when something important at the USPTO, in Congress, or in the courts came down. He was a trusted source and a straight shooter, unafraid to give the scoop and explain his position in matter-of-fact terms. He also was a pleasure to speak with at receptions and dinners over cocktails; most recently, I had the pleasure of introducing my wife to him and his husband during IPWatchdog’s 20th Anniversary party in Washington, D.C.; his is a legacy that will not soon be forgotten within IP circles and beyond.