Deborah Cohn’s Patent and Trademark Office History

With her work at the US Patent and Trademarks Office, trademark and patent office professional Deborah Cohn is known today as a powerful figure that has driven the progress of a federal agency through embracing modern and technological ways to allow employees to work from their homes. Long before all of that though, she has a story of climbing to success that is much similar to any story of someone who achieved their goals through hard work and determination. Below, she shares the path that she took to get where she is today.


Like with many successful careers, leading Patent and Trademark office official Deborah Cohn’s Patent knowledge of trademark law came from an outstanding education. She got her BA from American University in 1974 before going on to get her Juris Doctor degree from George Mason University’s School of Law.


About a year after receiving her law degree, Deborah Cohn’s career with the US Patent and Trademarks Office took off. As a Trademark Examining Attorney, she examined applications for trademark registration to determine compliance with Lanham Act and Rules of Practice; wrote legal briefs and presented oral arguments before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board.


Longtime trademark and patent office official Deborah Cohn was appointed Commissioner of Trademarks in 2006, and immediately got to pushing her telework agenda to increase cost-efficiency as well as boost the quality of life for her employees. Her program was beyond her time and successful, earning her recognition from politicians and other esteemed individuals as a progressive figure in the administration of federal agencies who embraces new ideas to improve productivity.

Deborah Cohn, Patent and Trademark Official - Telework Advocate

Deborah Cohn, patent and trademark official brought the concept of telework, or telecommuting to the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Cohn received a Telework Driver Award in 2007 for her work a decade earlier creating the USPTO’s first telework program. In 1997, telework was not as common as it is now. With improved Internet connectivity technology, telework is a common occurrence for workers, especially in the technology industry, or at any company that deals with the Internet or technology in any way.

Even in the ever-evolving private sector in 1997, telework was not a common concept used by technology companies. Certainly the public sector had not developed any kind of comprehensive telework programs for any government agency. Cohn saw the potential in telecommuting, or working from home immediately and started a campaign within the USPTO to put more people to work in their pajamas.

Deborah Cohn, patent and trademark official worked on USPTO executives for years to get the telework program up and running at her office. At the time, Cohn worked as a Managing Attorney in charge of 25 Trademark Examining Attorneys. A former Examining Attorney herself, she knew that her team could complete the same amount of work without commuting as regularly to a central physical office.

Cohn forged coalitions with managers, IT personnel, and the employee union to get her superiors to test the program. The result was increased productivity not only within her department, but throughout the USPTO. Eventually, the USPTO created the Trademark Work At Home program. With help from Deborah Cohn, patent and trademark official, the program is considered the gold standard for telework within the Federal Government.