USPTO Deputy Director Sharon Barner to Leave Agency

Sharon Barner, Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce and Director of the USPTO

Washington – Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Sharon Barner has announced she will be leaving the USPTO effective January 14, 2011.

Barner was appointed to the position by Commerce Secretary Gary Locke in October 2009. Among her many accomplishments is the development of the 2010-2015 USPTO Strategic Plan, which is designed to strengthen the capacity of the USPTO, reduce patent processing times and improve patent quality. In the international arena, Barner led 15 foreign missions to countries including Brazil, China, India, Mexico and Russia. During her travel, Barner met with representatives of government, academia and industry in order to raise awareness of the importance of intellectual property (IP) and its critical role in economic, social and cultural development.

“Sharon came to this position with vast experience in both management and IP law, which allowed her drive significant progress at the USPTO during her time here,” said Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO David Kappos. “Her vision, leadership, and strategic thinking helped set the USPTO on a path to better serve our stakeholders and the American public.”

“I am honored to have had the opportunity to help lead our nation’s innovation agency—the USPTO,” said Barner. “The Agency has made great progress under the leadership of Director Kappos in the areas of reducing the patent backlog, increasing operational efficiency, and exerting leadership in IP policy domestically and internationally. I wish the entire USPTO staff the best as they continue the critical work of supporting the U.S. economy by promoting and protecting innovation.”

“Sharon has played a key role in the progress that the USPTO has made under this Administration,” said Secretary Locke. “We are fortunate to have had someone of Sharon’s caliber on our leadership team and I thank her for her excellent service. We will miss her.”

Prior to her appointment, Barner spent more than 23 years practicing IP law. Most recently, she was a partner with Foley & Lardner LLP in Chicago and chaired the firm’s Intellectual Property Department.


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2 comments so far.

  • [Avatar for Gene Quinn]
    Gene Quinn
    December 20, 2010 11:46 am


    I don’t know there is a back story, other than Barner commuting from Chicago. It wasn’t even a telecommuting situation. She would fly out of DC back to Chicago on the 8pm Friday evening plane and then get on the 4am plain from Chicago back to DC on Monday morning. I understand she was doing this so as to not uproot her children and take them out of the schools they knew. That is dedication to family and dedication to service. Knowing the schedule she kept it was amazing she lasted as long as she did. When you factor in how everyone on Team Kappos works late into the evening practically every night swapping e-mails until after 11pm, it is a remarkable effort on her part.

    I would agree that practitioners on the inside of the PTO would be a very good thing. They seem to be moving in a positive direction, but having someone to ground them based on the day-to-day would be continually useful.


  • [Avatar for MBT]
    December 20, 2010 09:50 am

    Wow – she didn’t last long. I wonder what the “behind-the-scenes” story is on this, besides her telecommuting from Chicago not quite working out? Too bad too – the USPTO doesn’t have enough practitioners to guide it.