General Counsel Bios


Sarah Harris, General Counsel

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.

Will Covey, Deputy General Counsel for Enrollment and Discipline

As Deputy General Counsel and Director for the Office of Enrollment and Discipline (OED), Will Covey is responsible for ensuring that the nation’s patent attorneys and agents are of good moral character and sufficiently knowledgeable to practice before the USPTO.  Mr. Covey’s team of attorneys and other professionals develop and administer a registration examination designed to measure an applicants’ knowledge of patent law and practice.  Successful applicants are registered to practice by OED.  In addition, OED investigates complaints of unethical conduct made against individuals practicing patent or trademark law before the Office.

Mr. Covey has held a number of key positions in the USPTO including Acting General Counsel, and Deputy General Counsel for the Office of General Law.  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 was a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey.  He also served on active duty in the Pentagon.  He is currently a senior officer in the Army Reserve assigned to the Office of the Army General Counsel.  He completed combat tours in Iraq (2007) and Afghanistan (2011) and served as Deputy Legal Counsel to the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Joseph Matal, Acting Deputy General Counsel for Intellectual Property Law and Acting Solicitor

As Acting Deputy General Counsel for Intellectual Property Law and Acting Solicitor, Joseph Matal defends the Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and the agency in court proceedings relating to intellectual property issues. 

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, Patent Trial and Appeal Board, 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, 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.

Mr. Matal joined the USPTO in 2012.  From June 2017-February 2018, Mr. Matal performed the functions and duties of the Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO. 

In early 2017, Mr. Matal served as acting Chief of Staff for the agency and also advised the director on legislative matters.

From 2012-2016, Mr. Matal worked as an Associate Solicitor in the USPTO’s Office of Solicitor, Mr. Matal briefed and argued appeals of patent and trademark decisions before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit and the U.S. District Court, and assisted in the development of legal positions taken by the U.S. Solicitor General in patent and copyright cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. 

From 2000-2012, Mr. Matal worked on intellectual property issues as a legislative staffer in the U.S. Senate.  He served as the General Counsel of the Judiciary Committee for former Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL), and as a Judiciary Committee Counsel to former Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ). In that role, he was the principal staff drafter and negotiator of legislation that became the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act of 2011, the first comprehensive patent law overhaul since 1952. 

Mr. Matal is a graduate of Stanford University (BA 1993) and the University of California Berkeley School of Law (JD 1996).

David Shewchuk, Deputy General Counsel for General Law

David Shewchuk is the USPTO’s Deputy General Counsel for General Law.  As Deputy General Counsel, Mr. Shewchuk leads an office of thirty highly-skilled attorneys and paralegals.  The Office of General Law provides advice to USPTO clients on the full range of federal agency legal issues: fiscal, procurement, rulemaking, administrative law, labor and employment, and information law.  The Office’s attorneys litigate before arbitrators, the Civilian Board of Contract Appeals, the MSPB, EEOC, and FLRA, and in U.S. District Courts. 

Prior to becoming Deputy General Counsel, Mr. Shewchuk spent eight years handling some of the USPTO’s most complex and challenging labor and employment law issues, first as Associate Counsel and then as Senior Counsel for Labor in the Office of General Law.  

Mr. Shewchuk also worked for five years at the Federal Labor Relations Authority, including as the agency’s Deputy Solicitor.  In the FLRA Solicitor’s Office, he defended the agency’s decisions against challenge before United States Circuit Courts of Appeals.  Mr. Shewchuk briefed and argued more than 30 cases while at the FLRA, principally in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.  He has also worked as a litigation associate in private practice, with a focus on professional malpractice defense.

Mr. Shewchuk received his B.A. from the University of Virginia, and his J.D. from the College of William & Mary’s School of Law.