Sterne Kessler Building Interior

Tracy-Gene G. Durkin


Tracy-Gene G. Durkin is the practice leader of Sterne Kessler’s Mechanical and Design Practice Group and a member of the Trademark & Brand Protection Practice.  Tracy has a well-earned reputation for excellence in design patent law. In 2017, Intellectual Asset Management noted in their annual "IAM 1000" ranking that Tracy "needs no introduction as the country's top design expert." The 2018 World Trademark Review’s annual rankings reported that Tracy is particularly noted for operating  "at the vanguard of design patent law” and has “an affinity for matters at the intersection of trademarks, trade dress and design protection.” Since 2013, Tracy has been listed annually among Managing Intellectual Property's "IP Stars" for her counseling practice, and in 2013 and 2017, the publication  named her as one of the "Top 250 Women in IP." In 2016, Profiles in Diversity Journal listed her among "Women Worth Watching." A trailblazer, Tracy achieved a Martindale AV Preeminent Peer Rating of 5.0/5.0 in 2011, a recognition fewer than 5% of women lawyers have earned, and was named as one of the “Top Women Lawyers in the Northeast.” In 2017, she was named among Chambers & Partners' "recognized practitioners" in the "IP Patent Prosecution, District of Columbia category" and by Who's Who Legal for excellence in patents.

With nearly thirty years of experience obtaining and enforcing intellectual property rights, she is sought out by leading consumer product companies, and by colleagues around the world for her deep understanding of utility and design patents, trademarks, and copyrights. Tracy crafts and delivers unique IP protection strategies, designed to meet individual client's needs. Her expertise includes helping clear new products and trademarks for use in the marketplace, selecting appropriate IP protection, and enforcing such protection through mediation, litigation, and licensing.

Tracy has represented companies in patent, trademark, and copyright disputes before Federal District Courts, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, the International Trade Commission, the U.S. Patent & Trademark Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences, and the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board.  She has successfully represented both complainants and respondents before the World Intellectual Property Office in domain name arbitrations. Her prior experience working at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office gives her unique insight into arguing difficult cases and negotiating with examiners in personal interviews. She has served as an expert witness in patent disputes in District Court litigation and before the International Trade Commission on the issues of design patents and U.S. Patent & Trademark Office practice and procedures.

Tracy is a contributing author of Patent Office Litigation, Second Edition,published in 2017, the book provides a fresh and comprehensive exploration of patent office litigation proceedings, including how the proceedings interact with other aspects of patent procurement and enforcement, while delivering practical analysis and advice. This second edition of Patent Office Litigation is the follow up to the first version of the book that was published in 2012 by Thomson Reuters Westlaw that focused on the contested proceedings that were introduced under the America Invents Act that year. In 2016, Tracy served on the Law360 Intellectual Property Editorial Advisory Board. 

Tracy has been an Adjunct Professor of Law at George Mason University Law School in Virginia and has spoken internationally on topics, such as the interplay between design patents and trade dress, protection of user interface and the user experience, The Hague Agreement, trademark co-branding and licensing, IP audits and mediation. She is currently a vice chair of the Industrial Designs Committee of IP Section of the American Bar Association, and past vice chair of the Industrial Designs Committee of the Intellectual Property Owners Association and past chair of the Industrial Designs Committee of the American Intellectual Property Law Association.

Tracy's leadership at the firm includes her current role as practice group leader. She was the first woman elected equity director to the firm in 1994, and is the first woman to serve on the firm's executive committee, where she served three terms. A leader in the legal community, Tracy is a past president of the Women's Bar Association of the District of Columbia and of The Women's Bar Association Foundation, two organizations in which she continues active membership. She is currently on the board of the  Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia. 

Tracy received her J.D. from The George Washington University Law School, and her B.S., cum laude, in textile manufacturing and marketing from the Philadelphia University (formerly Philadelphia College of Textiles and Science).


  • Who's Who Legal, "Patents" (2017)
  • Chambers & Partners USA, "Recognised Practitioner" (2017)
  • Profiles in Diversity Journal, "Women Worth Watching" (2016)
  • National Law Journal, "IP Trailblazer and Pioneer" (2016)
  • World Intellectual Property Review, "WIPR Leaders" (2016)
  • Lawyer Monthly's, "Women in Law Award - Patents Category" (2016)
  • Managing Intellectual Property, "Top 250 Women in IP" (2017; 2013)
  • IAM Patent 1000, "Highly Recommended - Patent Prosecution; Patent Litigation (Silver Band)" (2017)
  • IAM Patent 1000, "Recommended Lawyer - Design Patents, Prosecution, and Litigation" (2016)
  • Managing Intellectual Property, "IP Star" (2017-2013)
  • World Trademark Review 1000, "The World's Leading Trademark Professionals" (2018-2014)
  • Arrive Magazine, "Martindale-Hubbell - Top Women Lawyers in the Northeast" (2011)
  • Washington Smart CEO, "Legal Elite" (2007)
  • The Women's Bar Association of the District of Columbia, President (2007-2006)
  • Burton Award, "Legal Excellence in Writing" (2005)
  • Martindale AV, "Preeminent Peer Rating 5.0/5.0"

Thought Leadership

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The George Washington University Law School
Textile Manufacturing and Marketing
Philadelphia University (formerly Philadelphia College of Textiles and Science)
cum laude


District of Columbia Court of Appeals
Supreme Court of the United States
U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland
United States Patent & Trademark Office


  • Law360 Intellectual Property Editorial Advisory Board
  • American Intellectual Property Law Association
  • ChIPs Women in IP
  • American Bar Foundation, Fellow
  • Intellectual Property Owners Association
  • International Trademark Association
  • Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia
  • Women's Bar Association of the District of Columbia