As USPTO’s General Counsel, Sarah Harris is the principal legal advisor to the Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO. She supervises the provision of legal advice and court representation on intellectual property and administrative matters for the agency. Ms. Harris 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. As necessary, she 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.
Prior to joining the USPTO, Ms. Harris served as Senior Vice President and Deputy General Counsel, Intellectual Property at AOL, Inc. and Associate General Counsel, Intellectual Property at Cooper Industries, Ltd where she interpreted intellectual property legislation and case law to establish and manage the implementation of global corporate strategies for capturing, protecting, and exploiting intellectual property to complement corporate initiatives. She has extensive experience in managing all types of intellectual property litigation and administrative proceedings (including patent, trademark, copyright, and domain name), intellectual property transactional issues, patent and trademark asset protection and monetization, and ethics and compliance issues. During her time with Haynes and Boone, LLP, Ms. Harris counseled clients on all aspects of protecting intellectual property, including patent acquisition and strategic portfolio development, licensing, litigation, and technology and investment transactions. She drafted and filed numerous patent and trademark applications and freedom to operate opinions.
Ms. Harris has been active in industry bar organizations and a frequent presenter on intellectual property issues to senior executives, business clients, and industry stakeholders. She was the president of the Houston Intellectual Property Law Association and on the Executive Committee of the Association of Corporate Patent Counsel. Ms. Harris received her B.S. in electrical engineering from Texas A&M University and her J.D. from the University of Houston Law Center.
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 useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and 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.