Bernard Knight was sworn-in as the USPTO’s General Counsel on April 19, 2010. Previously, Mr. Knight served as the agency’s first Deputy General Counsel for General Law from 2001 to 2006. Between 2007 and 2010, Mr. Knight was the Acting General Counsel and the Assistant General Counsel at the Department of Treasury.
As USPTO’s General Counsel, Mr. Knight is the principal legal advisor to the Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO. He supervises the provision of legal advice and court representation on intellectual property and administrative matters for the agency. Mr. Knight is responsible for providing legal advice on patent, trademark and copyright matters as well as administrative issues such as government contracts, personnel, and budgetary matters. He is one of the lead executives responsible for the development and implementation of the America Invents Act, including drafting legislation, regulations and guidance documents. Mr. Knight lectures extensively on intellectual property law, the importance of intellectual property to the United States’ economy and USPTO operations. He has lectured before trade associations such as the American Intellectual Property Lawyers Association, the Intellectual Property Owners Association and the American Bar Association. He has also addressed various topics before representatives from the biotechnology, software and high technology sectors. Mr. Knight represents the USPTO at international conferences and provides legal advice with respect to the USPTO’s relationship with various international organizations such as the World Intellectual Property Organization and foreign intellectual property offices. As necessary, he coordinates with the Department of Justice, Department of Commerce and other agencies in developing the U.S. position on major intellectual property cases before the Supreme Court and Courts of Appeals.
While at the Department of the Treasury as the Acting General Counsel, Mr. Knight provided legal and policy advice during the critical period from the beginning of the Obama administration until the selection and confirmation of a new General Counsel. He advised the Secretary and other senior officials on the administration's financial crisis response and managed the work of approximately 2,000 attorneys. Also at the Department of the Treasury, Mr. Knight served the Assistant General Counsel for General Law, Ethics and Regulation and supervised the Chief Counsels of the United States Mint, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, and the Alcohol, Tobacco, Tax and Trade Bureau.
He is the recipient of two Department of the Treasury’s “Distinguished Service Awards." One was awarded by Secretary Henry M. Paulson in 2009 for extraordinary service in establishing the Troubled Asset Relief Program and for his key managerial role in revitalizing the Treasury Legal Division and the second was awarded by Secretary Timothy F. Geithner in 2010 for his work as Acting General Counsel leading the Department of the Treasury’s Office of the General Counsel during the administration’s financial crisis response.
Mr. Knight has also served as a Senior Trial Attorney with the Department of Justice’s Tax Division where he received Outstanding Attorney Awards for his achievements. Before joining the Department of Justice, Mr. Knight worked at the law firms of Vinson and Elkins in Houston, and Hopkins and Sutter in Chicago. As an Adjunct Professor of Law at DePaul University in Chicago, Mr. Knight taught several classes in the Master of Laws in Taxation program.
Mr. Knight received his juris doctorate degree from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, master degrees in developmental psychology and clinical community counseling from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, and a bachelor's degree in business administration from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa.
About the USPTO
Since 1790, the basic role of the United States intellectual property system has remained the same: to promote the progress of science and the useful arts by securing for limited times to inventors the exclusive right to their respective discoveries (Article I, Section 8 of the United States Constitution). Today, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is a federal agency in the Department of Commerce, headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia. Through the issuance of patents, the USPTO encourages technological advancement by providing incentives to invent, invest in, and disclose new technology worldwide. Through the registration of trademarks, the agency assists businesses in protecting their investments, promoting goods and services, and safeguarding consumers against confusion and deception in the marketplace. By disseminating both patent and trademark information, the USPTO promotes an understanding of intellectual property protection and facilitates the development and sharing of new technologies worldwide.