Patent and Trademark Office GC to Join McDermott

McDermott Will & Emery announced Tuesday that it will welcome Bernard Knight Jr., currently serving as general counsel of the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO), as a new partner.

Knight will bring his years of intellectual property law experience to the firm’s IP Litigation Practice Group, operating out of Washington, D.C.

“I’m really honored to be joining their ranks,” Knight told

Knight will join the firm September 16. He said that he was drawn to McDermott in large part because it is “one of the pre-eminent firms in intellectual property,” and would provide a “great platform” to do IP work for clients.

In his position at the PTO, Knight played a significant role in designing the America Invents Act, passed in 2012, which dramatically changed the system in which patents are issued. As one of the law’s main architects, Knight will bring a first-hand knowledge of its regulations and the changes it has brought to the U.S. patent system.

“No firm today really has experts on this law because it’s just brand new,” said Knight.

Knight was the agency’s deputy general counsel from 2001-2006, then left to work in the Department of the Treasury as assistant general counsel. He stepped in as acting general counsel, from February to September 2009, in the midst of the financial crisis. He represented the U.S. government as a lead negotiating lawyer during this tumultuous time, and in recognition of his efforts was presented with Distinguished Service Awards by former Treasury Secretaries Timothy Geithner and Henry Paulson.

He returned to the PTO as general counsel in April 2010.

Although he has spent many years working in the public sector, Knight, who holds a law degree from the University of Southern California Law School and a bachelor’s in Business Administration from Drake University, is no stranger to big firm work. He began his law career at Vinson & Elkins in Houston and then moved to Hopkins & Sutter in Chicago.

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