New patent chief gets stamp of approval

SMU alumna Hope Shimabuku is the first director of the new Dallas office of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Hope Shimabuku

The Texas Lawbook

 Hope Shimabuku
Hope Shimabuku
(Photo by Rose Baca)
Growing up in Clear Lake, about 15 minutes away from Johnson Space Center, Hope Shimabuku was all about astronauts.

Her mother worked at NASA as a programmer on the Apollo program. And astronauts regularly visited her classrooms.

“I just thought that was the coolest thing,” she said. “I thought all kids had astronauts visiting their school.”

On Monday (Jan. 4), Shimabuku begins her own journey to go where no one has gone before as she is sworn in as the first director of the new Dallas office of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Shimabuku, a former corporate in-house lawyer at Xerox Business Services and BlackBerry in Dallas, steps into the high-profile position that she understands is critical to spurring innovation, entrepreneurship and business growth in Texas. . . 

“My first mission is simply getting the office up and going,” Shimabuku said in an interview with The Texas Lawbook. “Getting the right personnel in place and trained is critical to us addressing all the other issues, including the backlog.

“I know we have a tremendous amount of very important work ahead of us,” she said.

Shimabuku acknowledges she has a lot on her plate, considering that she is putting together an office that will handle intellectual property in eight states. . . .

Shimabuku comes from a family that has excelled in math and science. Her father was an engineer in oilfield services who worked for Dresser (now part of General Electric) before running his own engineering consulting firm.

At the University of Texas at Austin, she majored in mechanical engineering. Between college and law school, she worked as a quality manager and process engineer in Sherman for consumer products giant Procter & Gamble and then spent time as a mechanical engineering project manager for Dell Computer in Austin.

“Technology has always been one of my passions,” she said. “I chose my career in [intellectual property] so I could use my background and apply it.”

After getting her law license from Southern Methodist University in 2005, Shimabuku worked at two Dallas law firms, Yee & Associates and Munsch Hardt Kopf & Harr. In 2009, she moved to the corporate legal department of smartphone maker BlackBerry, which was called Research in Motion at the time.

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