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Foley's Sharon Barner Named Deputy Director of the USPTO

05 October 2009

Foley & Lardner announced today that Sharon R. Barner, chair of its Intellectual Property Department, has been named the new Deputy Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

Her appointment by Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke puts her in a leadership position to work under Under Secretary David J. Kappos and the USPTO leadership to modernize and strengthen a federal agency with more than 6,000 professional employees dealing with administration of the U.S. patent system.

“We’re very proud that Sharon has accepted this position,” said Ralf Böer, Foley’s chairman and CEO. “Given the increasing importance of intellectual property in this knowledge-based economy, and her broad based experience as a counselor, litigator and leader, she is an excellent pick for the post.”

“A strong, efficient and transparent patent system is critical to the ability of the U.S. to remain competitive and to maintain its role as a leading innovator,” Barner said. I am very grateful for the opportunity to work with Secretary Locke and Dave Kappos to accomplish this goal.”

Graduating in 1982 from the University of Michigan Law School, with a science experience rooted in biology, Barner has spent over a quarter century as an intellectual property counselor and patent litigator helping clients to add value and protect their innovation across a broad spectrum of technologies including biotechnology, software, and internet inventions.

In that role she has represented some of the firm’s most important clients in significant technologies including Pioneer Hi-Bred in major biotech patent infringement matters, Major League Baseball Advance Media on its internet system, Hewlett-Packard on computer software, Cummins Engine, and many more.

Since joining Foley’s Chicago office in 1996, she has held a number of leadership positions and was a member of the firm’s Management Committee. Barner also played a leadership role in the firm’s expansion in Asian markets, particularly the establishment of offices in Shanghai and Tokyo.

Stephen B. Maebius will replace Barner as chair of Foley’s Intellectual Property Department. Maebius is a member of the firm’s Management Committee and co-chair of the Life Sciences Industry Team. Prior to becoming an attorney, he was a patent examiner at the USPTO in the Biotechnology Group. He has experience handling many types of intellectual property work for his clients, including IP diligence reviews, opinions, international portfolio management, licensing, litigation, reexaminations, patent term extensions and interferences.

“I am thrilled for Sharon as she embarks on this new journey and deeply appreciative to have the opportunity to lead the firm’s extraordinary group of IP professionals,” said Maebius. "There is new leadership in the U.S. Patent Office and a renewed push for patent reform legislation in Congress. Innovative new models for providing IP services to clients are emerging. I cannot think of a more exciting time to be assuming this new role."

“We are confident that Steve will build on the tremendous momentum that Sharon has established and further enhance the national and international prominence of our Intellectual Property Department,” added Böer.

Comprised of nearly 240 attorneys, Foley’s Intellectual Property practice is a recognized leader in IP legal services. For the eighth consecutive year, Foley was ranked by IP Today as one of the top 10 firms for the number of patents issued and by IP Law & Business magazine as one of the top patent litigation firms in the nation. These rankings make Foley the only general practice firm to appear in the top 10 for both patent litigation and patent procurement.

Foley & Lardner LLP continually evolves to meet the changing legal needs of our clients. Our team-based approach, proprietary client service technology, and practice depth enhance client relationships while seeing clients through their most complex legal challenges. The BTI Consulting Group (Wellesley, Massachusetts) recently recognized Foley as one of the top four law firms shaping the U.S. legal market, while CIO magazine has named Foley to its CIO 100 list six times for our client-focused technology. With nearly 1,000 attorneys in 21 offices and more than 60 practices, count on Foley for high-caliber business and legal insight.