Trademark Commissioner Deborah Cohn was reported by The Washington Times to have announced her resignation today after allegations were reportedly made against her that she had violated nepotism laws. A Federal Times article from July provides some additional background on the reported scandal.
This particular Washington scandal has received virtually no coverage outside of the Beltway, so it was a little surprising to receive notices today that the Trademark Commissioner had resigned over a nepotism scandal.
If you are unfamiliar with the departing Trademark Commissioner, IP Watchdog published an interview of Commissioner Cohn in February, 2012, in which she indicated that her career with the Patent and Trademark Office began in 1983 as a trademark examiner, so she will have been with the agency for some 31 years when she steps down. (The second part of the interview is attached here). Commissioner Cohn was apparently not an appointee from the private sector but rather a career Patent and Trademark Office employee.
It is unfortunate to see yet another federal government agency affected by scandal, particularly the Patent and Trademark Office. With so many Washington scandals in the news right now, is it any wonder that many Americans have such a negative perception of the federal government? With all the tax dollars and fees that we Americans are sending to our government each year, wouldn't it be nice if we could run our federal government a little more transparently and feel like so much of the money that we are sending them out of our pockets was not being misused? Washington D.C. sometimes seems a world away from Silicon Valley, and frequent scandals only increase that perception.
But the underlying story here is still just how very hard it is to land employment for many Americans--even lawyers. For those of us working, we sometimes forget. Perhaps this story would never have developed but for that reality. Who among us hasn't been asked to do a favor for someone struggling to find work--or even perhaps asked for a favor ourselves?
All in all, this is not the kind of news you want to see come out of the Patent and Trademark Office. Or Washington.