The United States Patent and Trademark Office mourns the loss of The Honorable Gerald J. Mossinghoff, former Assistant Secretary of Commerce and Commissioner of Patents and Trademarks, and a true legend in the American intellectual property community.
In 1957, Commissioner Mossinghoff began his patent career, working as a patent examiner. Almost 25 years later, after practicing law outside the USPTO and serving in a number of important government positions, President Ronald Reagan appointed Mossinghoff as the head of the USPTO. Mossinghoff set to work furthering American innovation through improved customer service and examinational efficiency. Among other accomplishments, Mossinghoff led the USPTO towards automation, integrating computers into agency operations, and towards self-sufficiency, working with Congress to increase patent and trademark fees. At the same time, Mossinghoff was busy helping to stand up the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, created to ensure greater uniformity in patent law.
Other organizations similarly benefited from Mossinghoff’s leadership, including the General Assembly of the United Nations Intellectual Property Organization, where he served as Chairman, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, where he served as Deputy General Counsel, and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, where he served as President.
Later in his career, Mossinghoff returned to the USPTO in an advisory role, serving for eight years as a member of the Patent Public Advisory Committee. He also practiced law at the Oblon law firm and taught patent law at George Washington University Law School. His illustrious career was capped by being inducted into the Intellectual Property Hall of Fame in 2007.
Commissioner Mossinghoff brought his passion for law and science to every organization he touched, leaving a lasting mark on American innovation. I, the USPTO, and the entire IP community will miss him dearly.