Former PTO Deputy Director Barner Returns to Foley & Lardner

Sharon Barner with Bob Stoll at the White House on November 17, 2010

Foley & Lardner LLP announced today that Sharon R. Barner has returned to the firm’s Intellectual Property Department in its Chicago office. Barner most recently served as Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).  During her stay at the Patent Office she undertook no fewer than 8 trips to China on official government business, among the 15 foreign missions she participated in.

A well rested Barner was the keynote speaker at the 5th Annual Patent Law Institute hosted by PLI in New York City last week, and she will also speak at the San Francisco Patent Law Institute in mid-March.  Barner seems anxious to get back into the swing of things as an attorney, and no doubt will be able to bring an array of useful experiences back to her litigation practice.  While it is almost crazy to contemplate, not having to work for the energizer bunny (a.k.a. David Kappos) Barner might actually have more free time, although certainly fewer frequent flier miles.

Barner returns to Foley’s Chicago office, where she started with the firm in 1996.  While with Foley & Lardner she held a number of leadership positions, including chair of the firm’s Intellectual Property Department, before leaving for the USPTO. She was also a member of the firm’s Management Committee.

During her tenure at the USPTO, Barner was the driving force behind the creation of the “2010-2015 USPTO Strategic Plan,” which is designed to strengthen the capacity of the USPTO, shorten the time it takes to grant a patent, improve quality and, for the first time, includes development of a National Intellectual Property Strategy. While Deputy Under Secretary, she led 15 foreign missions, including trips to Brazil, China, India, Mexico, and Russia, to meet with representatives of government, academia and industry in order to raise awareness of the importance of intellectual property and the positive impact it has on a nation’s economic, social and cultural development. She was also integral in the creation of the USPTO’s first regional office, which is located in Detroit.

“Foley’s IP Department has enjoyed national and international prominence for many years based on the quality of its attorneys and track record for successful legal counsel,” said Ralf Boer, chairman and CEO of Foley. “Sharon was instrumental in driving this success during her tenure with the firm as well as Foley’s expansion in Asia, including the establishment of offices in Shanghai and Tokyo. She will be integral in continuing to strengthen our presence in those markets as China continues to emerge as a business and economic powerhouse. We are very pleased to welcome her back to Foley.”

“I am honored to have had the opportunity to serve as the Deputy Director of the USPTO, and to have served in a leadership role in designing initiatives and shaping policy necessary to ensure continued leadership of American innovation and global competitiveness,” said Barner. “I also look forward to rejoining one of the premiere IP programs in the country. Foley’s platform offers a unique opportunity to assist businesses to strategically enhance the value of their IP portfolios based upon significant operational initiatives within the USPTO and the increased importance of IP policy issues to their business objectives.”

At Foley, Barner will focus her practice on IP litigation, strategic counseling and enhancing IP value.  Barner’s experience at the USPTO and in particular her work with foreign governments and Patent Offices should provide a unique insight and aptly suit a strategic counseling practice.  In fact, Barner will speaking at the University of California Berkeley School of Law in a few weeks for a program entitled Beyond Piracy in the New China.  Barner’s opening address will be titled: “China’s Intellectual Property Landscape:  Innovation Leader or Trojan Horse?”

“Much of Sharon’s work at the USPTO was focused on bringing the inner workings of Washington, D.C. to the national business community,” said Mark L. Prager, managing partner of Foley’s Chicago office. “She brings a unique business perspective to the IP policy discussion which will be a great asset to our clients.”

“Sharon’s diverse experience at the USPTO, including her international work and her hands on role with the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences will be invaluable to our clients as we continue to work with them to navigate the rapidly evolving IP landscape,” said Stephen B. Maebius, chair of Foley’s Intellectual Property Department.


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