General Counsel Bios
Bernard Knight, General Counsel
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.
Raymond T. Chen, Deputy General Counsel for Intellectual Property Law and Solicitor
Raymond Chen was named the Deputy General Counsel for Intellectual Property Law and Solicitor in December 2008. In this role, he defends the Under Secretary of Commerce and Director of the USPTO and the agency in court proceedings relating to intellectual property issues.
As an Associate Solicitor, Mr. Chen spent 10 years defending the USPTO's decisions in federal court, briefing and arguing numerous cases before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. His notable Federal Circuit arguments include In re Bilski, In re Nuijten, and In re Comiskey. Mr. Chen has also provided legal advice to the USPTO on new regulations and examination guidelines.
The Office of the Solicitor provides legal counsel to the Under Secretary and Director and the Commissioners for Patents and Trademarks on intellectual property matters. The office's primary responsibility is to defend decisions of the Under Secretary and Director, Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences, Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, and examiners in patent and trademark cases. The office also represents the Under Secretary and Director at depositions of USPTO employees, maintains the Solicitor's Law Library, provides legal advice on proposed regulations and correspondence, and monitors publication of USPTO decisions. The Solicitor's Office, in coordination with the Department of Commerce, also provides representation for the Under Secretary and Director in the interagency deliberations on intellectual property matters.
Before joining the USPTO, Mr. Chen served for two years as a Technical Assistant at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Prior to that, he was an associate at Knobbe, Martens, Olson & Bear in Newport Beach, California, where his practice focused on patent prosecution and litigation. Before entering law school, Mr. Chen was a scientist for Hecker & Harriman in Los Angeles, California, specializing in patent prosecution for electronics and computer-related technologies. He received his J.D. from the New York University School of Law and his B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of California at Los Angeles.
James Payne, Deputy General Counsel for General Law
James Payne has served as Deputy General Counsel for General Law since November 2011. The Office of General Law provides legal counsel on the administration and management of the agency, including on financial, employment and labor matters, as well as on administrative law and legislative matters. The Office also represents the agency in litigation before administrative tribunals.
Mr. Payne has served as lead counsel successfully resolving over 200 affirmative and defensive litigation cases. The cases commonly involved technical and scientific experts. He has frequently spoken at and chaired conferences on litigation practice. He has authored five statutes and testified three times before Congress. He was registered as a patent attorney in 2006.
Mr. Payne comes to the PTO after twelve years at the U.S. Department of Justice, where he served as Senior Counsel in the Environment and Natural Resources Division. He was lead counsel for general law, policy and legislative matters and for special litigation. When the Deepwater Horizon oil platform sank in the Gulf of Mexico, he led a team of 60 attorneys across the Government who supported the emergency response with coordinated legal advice on an expedited basis at the request of the White House. He led a similar team for the Japan nuclear crisis. He also led an interagency and White House team that developed the Memorandum of Understanding on Environmental Justice, in which 17 department Secretaries and agency heads agreed to carry out strategic plans to improve health and environmental protection in minority and low-income communities. He received nine outstanding attorney awards, including the Attorney General’s Award for Excellence in Information Technology for leading the U.S. Department of Justice and other departments and agencies in improving electronic discovery practices in civil litigation and criminal prosecutions.
Previously, Mr. Payne served as an Assistant Attorney General in the Environmental Enforcement Section of the Ohio Attorney General’s Office. He authored an 18-State amicus brief adopted by the U.S. Supreme Court in its leading constitutional case on state sovereignty, New York vs. U.S., and led a nationwide team of State litigators who successfully brought to the Court a series of cases in this area. He received the National Association of Attorneys General’s highest recognition, the Marvin Award.
Mr. Payne received from Dartmouth College an A.B. with a major in Engineering Sciences. His J.D. is from Ohio State University. As a law student he founded the Ohio State Journal on Dispute Resolution, which the American Bar Association adopted as its official journal promoting use of mediation and other forms of "alternative dispute resolution" to avoid litigation.
William R. Covey, Deputy General Counsel and Director for Office of Enrollment and Discipline
William R. Covey is the Deputy General Counsel and Director for the Office of Enrollment and Discipline (OED). As the Deputy General Counsel, he manages an office of attorneys, paralegals and support staff which is responsible for registering practitioners (patent attorneys and agents) to practice before the USPTO. OED also develops and administers a practitioner's registration examination to determine if applicants for registration have the necessary knowledge of patent law and practice to assist applicants. In addition, OED maintains a public roster of attorneys and agents recognized to practice before the Office in patent cases, and investigate complaints alleging unethical conduct by individuals practicing before the Office. Prior to his appointment, Mr. Covey served as the USPTO’s Deputy General Counsel for the Office of General Law for over four years. Mr. Covey was appointed to the Senior Executive Service in 2007.
Mr. Covey received his undergraduate degree from Fordham University (Magna Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa) and earned his J.D. from Fordham University Law School in 1991. He graduated from Harvard University's JFK School of Government (Senior Executive Fellowship) in 2005 and the U.S. Army War College with an M.S. (Strategic Studies) in 2010.
Prior to joining the USPTO in 2000, Mr. Covey served at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia in the U.S. Army’s Office of the General Counsel. He continues to serve in the Army Reserve, completed combat tours in Iraq (2007) and Afghanistan (2011). He served as Deputy Legal Counsel to the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff and is currently assigned to the Office of the Army General Counsel.