Q. Todd Dickinson
1952 - 2020
Q. Todd Dickinson

The Honorable Q. Todd Dickinson, 67, of Washington, DC and The Plains, VA died on Sunday, May 3, 2020. He is survived by his husband, Robert H. Atkins and his brother, John D. Dickinson. He married Robert Atkins on July 9, 2017 following a two-year engagement and ten years as partners. The eldest son of John and Martha Dickinson, he was born on December 21, 1952 in Philadelphia, PA and spent his childhood in Mt. Lebanon, PA, where his family was active in the Southminster Presbyterian Church. He also spent many summers with extended family at his maternal grandfather's farm on the Rivanna River in Charlottesville, VA.

Todd received a B.S. in Chemistry from Allegheny College, where he was also an active member of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, and a J.D. from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.

From 1981 to 1990 Todd lived in San Francisco, CA where he served as in-house intellectual property counsel for Chevron Corporation. While there he was eager to support LGBT causes in a city with an out and increasingly prominent civically and politically engaged community. During these years he was a founding board member of the Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom (BALIF) and served on the National Board of Governors of the Human Rights Campaign Fund (now the Human Rights Campaign or HRC), co-chairing the 1985 San Francisco HRCF dinner. He was also appointed by then-mayor Dianne Feinstein to be the city's parking commissioner.

In 1990 he moved to Philadelphia, PA, where he served as Chief Counsel for IP and Technology for Sun Company, Inc. (Sunoco) and later as counsel with the law firm Dechert Price & Rhoads. In Philadelphia, he was again active in numerous political, civic and professional organizations including the Liberty City Democratic Club, the Pride of Philadelphia Election Committee and the Gay and Lesbian Lawyers of Philadelphia (now the LGBTQ Bar Assn.). He was also a founding Master with the Benjamin Franklin Inn of Court for IP law in Philadelphia and advised the SAE chapter at the University of Pennsylvania.

In 1997 he moved to Washington, DC, and joined the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. In 1998 he was appointed by President Clinton and confirmed by the U.S. Senate as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce and Deputy Commissioner of Patents and Trademarks. The following year he was appointed and confirmed as Assistant Secretary and Commissioner. Shortly thereafter his titles changed and he became the first Undersecretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property & Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office following the enactment of the American Inventors Protection Act of 1999. In 2001 he joined the law firm of Howrey Simon Arnold & White as co-chair of the Intellectual Property Practice Group, where he opened, recruited, and staffed the firm's new San Francisco office.

In 2004, Todd moved to Westport, CT, and joined the General Electric Company as Vice President and Chief Intellectual Property Counsel. In 2008, he became Executive Director of the American Intellectual Property Law Association and returned to Washington, DC. In 2015, he joined the law firm of Novak Druce Connolly Bove + Quigg, which later merged with the law firm Polsinelli, PC. Beginning in the spring semester of 2019, he co-lectured a seminar in International IP Law at the George Washington University Law School.

A passionate advocate for intellectual property law and the power of patents to spur innovation, Todd was active in numerous IP organizations and mentored and advised many over the decades of his career. At the time of his death, he served on the University of Pittsburgh School of Law Board of Visitors, the George Washington University School of Law Advisory Board on Intellectual Property and the Board of Directors of the Patent Trial and Appeals Board Bar Association, on which he'd served since its founding in 2016. During his time in Washington, DC, he was also an active Master with the Giles Sutherland Rich Inn of Court for IP Law. Among his many honors were his induction to the Intellectual Property Hall of Fame in 2012, and the naming in his honor of the Q. Todd Dickinson Inn of Court for IP Law in Pittsburgh, also in 2012.

Todd was a loving and devoted husband, brother, uncle, and son. Throughout his life, he was always eager to make and sustain friendships. Although he ceased to be an active church member in adulthood, he maintained values that he associated with his Presbyterian upbringing: loyalty, honesty, thrift, and cocktails. To that he also brought his own sense of humor and genuine curiosity about people and the world around him. He loved reading, cooking (and eating), entertaining, traveling, plays, musicals and film, rooting for all Pittsburgh sports teams, collecting art and rhododendrons, corgis, and sharing them all with his close friends and family.

In light of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the dates of memorial services are to be determined.

Contributions to honor Todd's life may be made to the GW Law Intellectual Property Program online at www.law.gwu.edu/giving or by mail at PO Box 98131, Washington, DC 20077-9756; the School of Law at the University of Pittsburgh, 128 N. Craig Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15260; the BALIF Bar Association online at https://www.balif.org/donate, or by mail with checks made out to BALIF at P.O. Box 193383; San Francisco, CA 94119; and the Philadelphia LGBTQ Bar Association online at https://www.philalgbtqbar.org/.

Published by San Francisco Chronicle from May 15 to May 16, 2020.
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