Former USPTO Deputy Director Sharon Barner Returns to Foley

22 February 2011 Media Contact: Dan Farrell News

Brings Extensive International IP Experience; Plans to Continue to Influence Policy in New Role.

Foley announced today that Sharon R. Barner has returned to the firm’s Intellectual Property Department in its Chicago office. Barner most recently served as Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

During her tenure at the USPTO, Barner drove the creation of the “2010-2015 USPTO Strategic Plan,” which is designed to strengthen the capacity of the USPTO, shorten the time it takes to grant a patent, improve quality and, for the first time, includes development of a National Intellectual Property Strategy. While Deputy Under Secretary, she led 15 foreign missions, including trips to Brazil, China, India, Mexico, and Russia, to meet with representatives of government, academia and industry in order to raise awareness of the importance of intellectual property and the positive impact it has on a nation’s economic, social and cultural development.  She was also integral in the creation of the USPTO’s first regional office, which is located in Detroit.

“Foley’s IP Department has enjoyed national and international prominence for many years based on the quality of its attorneys and track record for successful legal counsel,” said Ralf Boer, chairman and CEO of Foley. “Sharon was instrumental in driving this success during her tenure with the firm as well as Foley’s expansion in Asia, including the establishment of offices in Shanghai and Tokyo. She will be integral in continuing to strengthen our presence in those markets as China continues to emerge as a business and economic powerhouse. We are very pleased to welcome her back to Foley.” 

 “I am honored to have had the opportunity to serve as the Deputy Director of the USPTO, and to have served in a leadership role in designing initiatives and shaping policy necessary to ensure continued leadership of American innovation and global competitiveness,” said Barner. “I also look forward to rejoining one of the premiere IP programs in the country.  Foley’s platform offers a unique opportunity to assist businesses to strategically enhance the value of their IP portfolios based upon significant operational initiatives within the USPTO and the increased importance of IP policy issues to their business objectives.”

At Foley, Barner will focus her practice on IP litigation, strategic counseling and enhancing IP value.

“Much of Sharon’s work at the USPTO was focused on bringing the inner workings of Washington, D.C. to the national business community,” said Mark L. Prager, managing partner of Foley’s Chicago office.  “She brings a unique business perspective to the IP policy discussion which will be a great asset to our clients.”

“Sharon’s diverse experience at the USPTO, including her international work and her hands on role with the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences will be invaluable to our clients as we continue to work with them to navigate the rapidly evolving IP landscape,” said Stephen B. Maebius, chair of Foley’s Intellectual Property Department.

Barner joined Foley’s Chicago office in 1996 and held a number of leadership positions, including chair of the firm’s Intellectual Property Department, before leaving for the USPTO. She was also a member of the firm’s Management Committee.

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. Foley also ranked in the top five on Corporate Counsel magazine’s list of "Who Represents America's Biggest Companies?" and is recognized as the top firm in IP for the Fortune Global 100.

With nearly 1,000 attorneys in 21 offices, Foley & Lardner LLP provides award-winning business and legal insight to clients across the country and around the world. Our team-based approach, innovative technology, and focus on value and client service are continually recognized by our clients and the legal industry. In a recent survey* of Fortune 1000 corporate counsel, Foley received a top 10 ranking out of more than 500 firms for our strong client focus, breadth of service, innovation, and value for the dollar. In addition, Foley was a Top 10 firm on the U.S. News – Best Lawyers® 2010 “Best Law Firms” list, based on the total number of first-tier metropolitan rankings, and CIO magazine recognized Foley for technological innovation that enhances business value by naming the firm to its prestigious CIO-100 list. Learn more at

*The BTI Consulting Group (Wellesley, Massachusetts)

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