On Monday, December 12. 2011 General Counsel Kerry presided over the Office of General Counsel Annual Awards Ceremony. He was joined by Secretary Bryson who delivered remarks, thanking the office for their tireless work over the past year. The Secretary acknowledged the great assistant that the office’s attorneys and support staff have provided to him since his start at Commerce and he looks forward to working closely with the staff. He introduced GC Kerry, who detailed the broad range of accomplishments achieved by OGC office over the past year. He highlighted the successful completion of Patent Reform and the successful litigation of the Supreme Court Case Golan v. Holder (10-545 ). He also applauded OGC’s contributions to various other litigation matters as well as works in enforcing fisheries regulations and export controls.
GC Kerry and Deputy General Counsel Geovette Washington presented the Attorney of the Year Awards and the Support Staff of the Year Award. The 2011 recipients are:
Attorney of the Year - Robert McManus – U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
Robert significantly advanced the goals both of the USPTO and the Department to establish a strong patent system. Thanks to his efforts at the Supreme Court, the Court adopted the Department's position which has been haled as resulting in stronger and more reliable patent rights. Robert was also instrumental in a wholesale re-writing of the rules governing how appeals are conducted at the USPTO Patent Trial and Appeal Board which will lead to more efficient review of patent applications. Robert routinely provides expert advice under tight deadlines on complicated matters.
Support Staff of the Year - Debra Ketchopulos – National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration
Debra provided crucial support to the Gloucester's Enforcement Section office maintaining continuity of operations in that region in the absence of any enforcement attorneys for most of the year. During this time, she continued to coordinate enforcement matters with the Office for Law Enforcement, fielding as many inquiries herself as possible, while judiciously referring others to headquarters for resolution. Debra also responded to a large number of requests for case information from the Special Master who was appointed by the Secretary of Commerce to review fisheries enforcement, thereby greatly enhancing the Special Master's ability to timely complete his review. After 34 years of support to the NOAA Office of the General Counsel, she continues to be cited by colleagues at all levels for her exceptional performance and willingness to take on new tasks and increased responsibilities.