Deborah Cohn Commissioner

Law Degree From George Mason University

Deborah Cohn Commissioner

Commissioner Deborah Cohn is currently serving as the Commissioner for Trademarks for the United States Patent and Trademark Office. She has worked for the United States Patent and Trademark Office for over 30 years and has climbed the ranks to her current esteemed position. Commissioner Deborah Cohn is responsible for being the principal advisor on Trademark matters to the Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO. Deborah Cohn is retiring in January, 2015.

Commissioner Deborah Cohn: Protecting Future Progress

Commissioner Deborah Cohn is a highly professional, highly dedicated attorney in the United States Patent and Trademark Office, who specializes in intellectual property. After graduating from law school and receiving her degree from George Mason University School of Law in 1982, she went to work almost immediately for the USPTA and has been there ever since. She is currently serving as the Commissioner for Trademarks and has held the position since December 31, 2010.


Commissioner Deborah Cohn has been with the United States Patent and Trademark Office since 1983, giving her more than thirty years of experience in the realm of intellectual property and trademark law. “I found [a law school class] on patents, trademarks and copyrights, and I thought, ‘Trademarks – that’s the place for me.’ I’d always been interested in public service and admired people working in it, and government service and trademarks together seemed like the perfect match.”


Commissioner Deborah Cohn began her long career with the office as a Trademark Examining Attorney, then moved up the ranks to become a Managing Attorney, Group Director of the Trademark Law Offices, Deputy Commissioner for Trademark Operations, and finally to her current position as the Commissioner for Trademarks. She also served as the Acting Chief Administrative Officer from 2008 to 2010, and was responsible for all administrative service support functions for the United States Patent and Trademark Office.


Commissioner Deborah Cohn is dedicated to the protection of trademark rights in the United States for the public and for businesses worldwide. Deborah Cohn is retiring in January, 2015.

Commissioner Deborah Cohn - Telework Pilot Program

Commissioner Deborah Cohn oversees all aspects of the Trademarks office in the United States Patent and Trademarks agency. She has been with the USPTO since 1983.


She has many accomplishments during her career with the USPTO. But one of her most notable achievements is developing the pilot program for teleworking, which allows employees to do their jobs remotely via the Internet. “We’ve been doing work at home since 1997,” she says. “So we were pioneers.”


Commissioner Deborah Cohn says that in developing the program, they looked at the Federal guidelines for flexibility within the workplace, and from their put together a pilot program. “We had two examining attorneys from each law office, a total of eighteen participants,” she recalls. “We wanted to pilot it first to see how it worked and what changes might be needed. We had a two year pilot and it worked extraordinarily well.”


Concerns that employees might not be as productive working from their homes proved to be without foundation, she says. “Production and quality are as good as they would be in the office, if not better.” And so the program was gradually expanded. Before long employees were allowed to do their work remotely and live anywhere within the continental United States. Some of them came in to the office occasionally, but it was not a requirement.


During her tenure in USPTO, Commissioner Deborah Cohn has also overseen the transition to a nearly paperless office. “We still receive some paper, so attorneys or applicants can elect to send us a paper response or paper submissions.” But their electronic filing rate is more than ninety-eight percent.

Commissioner Deborah Cohn - A Great Job

Commissioner Deborah Cohn became interested in the subject of trademarks while she was a law student at the George Mason University School of Law. After enrolling in a class on patents, trademarks and copyrights, she said she felt that it was a perfect fit.


Trademarks, as she knows, are generally defined as any word, slogan, symbol, design, or combination of those things, that identifies the source of goods and services, and distinguishes them from the goods and services of another party. After Deborah Cohn received her law degree she learned of an opening in the United States Patent and Trademark Office. “I interviewed for it and was lucky enough to get hired straight out of law school,” she recalls. “The rest is history.”


Today, more than thirty years later, Commissioner Deborah Cohn is as interested as ever in trademarks and the protections that registered trademarks afford to businesses. “It’s what drives our economy,” she says, “in the sense that companies and brand owners rely on the goodwill and recognition that they engender through their trademarks.”


She began at the USPTO as an examining attorney in trademarks, and has seen many changes to the agency during her thirty-year career. “I was here for the historic evolution from basically a very male predominated agency to the one that we have today, which is great,” she says. “We have a female patent commissioner who is the first female patent commissioner, ever. I’m not the first female trademark commissioner.”


Commissioner Deborah Cohn says that the USPTO has a talented and motivated staff that have helped make her work enjoyable. “I love it,” she says. “It’s a great job.” Despite her love for the job, she has announced she is retiring in January, 2015.

Deborah Cohn, Commissioner - Presidential Rank Award for Meritorious Service

Deborah Cohn, Commissioner won a Presidential Rank Award for Meritorious Service in 2007 for her strong leadership and her achievements within the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).


The award is presented to only five percent of all Senior Executive Service members and Senior Career Employees. The award has been given by the President of the United States since 1978. In 2013, President Obama suspended the service, but in 2007, Cohn stood out enough to win the award, which is designed to reward high-performing senior career employees for their sustained extraordinary accomplishment.


To win the award, Deborah Cohn, Commissioner was nominated as an executive of a governmental organization by her agency head, evaluated by a citizen panel, and then designated by the President. Cohn won this award by working hard for decades to improve the USPTO. She started as a Trademark Examining Attorney in 1983 and over the years moved up to Commissioner in 2010.


She is responsible for the groundbreaking Trademark Work at Home (TWAH) project, which she managed to get instituted by her superiors in 1997. TWAH is now the standard telework program used widely across almost all government agencies today. With decades of experience and success under her belt, while working for the USPTO, Deborah Cohn, Commissioner caught the attention of her peers and won the respect of her colleagues. Cohn has worked hard to improve every department she has worked in within the USPTO, and this recognition is proof of her loyalty and dedication to the USPTO.