New USPTO Commissioner for Trademarks Appointed

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) announced today that Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross has appointed David Gooder to be the new USPTO Commissioner for Trademarks, replacing Mary Boney Denison, who retired from the position in December 2019 after eight years with the Office. Since Boney Denison’s retirement, Deputy Commissioner for Trademark Operations Meryl Hershkowitz has been acting in the role of Commissioner.

Gooder most recently served as Chief Trademark Counsel for Brown-Forman Corporation, which is among the largest American-owned spirits and wine companies. According to the USPTO press release, at Brown-Forman, “Gooder directed the company’s global intellectual property work, including managing its large trademark portfolio, rights clearance, brand protection (including anti-counterfeiting), licensing, and entertainment deals for the brands.”

He also served as Managing Director and Chief Trademark Counsel at Jack Daniel’s Properties, and before that practiced trademark, copyright, and entertainment law at Graham & James in Los Angeles and Luce Forward in San Diego. His IP career spans more than 25 years.

Gooder will have a lot to keep him busy. In her recent interview with IPWatchdog, Gooder’s predecessor, Boney Denison, detailed some of the key challenges she faced in her role.  At the top of the list was fraudulent trademark filings and “bad faith behavior by users,” Boney Denison said. At a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet last July, Boney Denison said that between 2013 and 2017, there was a 1200% increase in trademark filings from China and the fees for a large number of trademarks that have been identified as fraudulent were paid for by only three credit cards.

The Office has since taken steps to combat the issue, and Congress has been actively involved. As part of that effort, the USPTO is working on the Automated Specimens Analysis Program (ASAP) database, which will be “a searchable database of specimen images to help examiners locate specimens that may be used as pictures in other applications by other owners,” Boney Denison said.  Mandatory electronic filing is also set to go into effect in February, and the Office will be requiring more information on website specimens. These efforts and other IT updates will likely occupy Gooder’s time in his first few months.

“I am delighted to have David Gooder join the leadership team at the USPTO,” said Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office Andrei Iancu. “The U.S. trademark system is the global standard for excellence. I know that David is going to do a great job maintaining and indeed raising that standard.”



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