Intellectual Property Law

New Matter SUMMER 2017, Volume 41, Number 3


The Intellectual Property Law Section notes with sorrow that Lynne Beresford, the former Commissioner of Trademarks, died at the age of 74 on June 26, 2016.

Ms. Beresford, a graduate of Rutgers Law School, joined the United States Patent and Trademark Office as a trademark examining attorney in 1979. She held a number of positions in the Trademark Office, including Deputy Commissioner for Trademark Examination Policy, and Deputy Commissioner for Trademark Operations, before becoming the Commissioner of Trademarks in 2005. While head of the USPTO’s Office of Legislative and International Affairs, she was instrumental in drafting implementing legislation for the Trademark Law Treaty and the Madrid Protocol in the United States. She had a significant role in the founding of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN)), and from 1997 to 2001 she chaired meetings of the World Intellectual Property Organization’s Standing Committee on Trademarks, Industrial Designs, and Geographical Indications.

As the Commissioner of Trademarks Ms. Beresford was responsible for all aspects of trademark operations and legal policy at the USPTO. In 2008 she led the team that negotiated the U.S. ratification of the Singapore Trademark Law Treaty. Her tenure as Commissioner saw improvements in examination quality and timeliness, better accountability for user fee spending, and new levels of customer service for user groups and the public. The Trademark Office had high levels of employee satisfaction and retention during her time during which she was affectionately referred to as "the Other Commish" – a name memorialized by a sign on her office door. She retired in 2010 and was inducted into the IP Hall of Fame in 2011. David Kappos, the Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO from 2009 to 2013, considered her a valued colleague, and had this to say about her:

Ms. Beresford was a good friend to the Intellectual Property Law Section of the California State Bar. During her term at the Trademark Officer she always met with the delegation the Section sent to Alexandria in order to discuss the latest developments and concerns. She was very approachable. She also would always generously allow high-ranking employees of the Trademark Office to come and speak at the Section’s Trademark Office Comes to California seminars.

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