On August 25, 2017, The White House announced they have selected Andrei Iancu, the managing partner of a major Los Angeles law firm, to be the next head of the US Patent and Trademark Office. In contrast to his last pick, former Google Patent Attorney Michelle Lee who was popular among many technology firms CEO’s.
Iancu has a wide variety of experience as an Intellectual Property Lawyer. He taught g IP Law at UCLA to defending both plaintiffs and defendants on IP issues across many different industries from pharma to aeronautics. He has been a partner at Irell & Manella since 2004 and worked at the same firm for five years prior as an associate.
His most famous case in the technology sector was representing TiVo Corporation in its long-standing patent battles with companies like EchoStar, Cisco, Microsoft, as well as Verizon. TiVo ultimately won and required those defendants to pay over $1.6 billion for its innovative DVR patents.
Iancu also was part of the legal team which won Immersion Corporations’s $82 million jury verdict against Sony Computer Entertainment. In this case, a jury found that Immersion’s patent claims on tactile feedback technology were valid and infringed.
Those big wins aside, most of Iancu’s work has been on the defense side. He has represented eBay in a case against Acacia Research
Corp., a large publicly traded non-practicing entity, and he worked for Hewlett-Packard when it defended against Xerox patent claims.
He has also worked in the medical industry, enforcing patents for immunotherapy cancer treatments on behalf of Sloan-Kettering Institute for Cancer Research. Additionally, Iancu represented Ariosa Diagnostics in a case against Sequenom and succeeded in invalidating a genetic testing patent. According to Joseph Mullin of ARS Technica, “The Sequenom decision was not popular among biotechnology companies and the lawyers who represent them.”
Once again, President Trump has chosen a candidate from a firm he has done business with in the past. Irell & Manella firm once defended Trump, along with NBC Universal and Mark Burnett Productions, against a claim of copyright infringement related to his reality show, The Apprentice . While there’s no indication Lancu was involved in that case, it appears loyalty to be one of the key factors in Trump’s pick..
According to his biography, Iancu earned his JD, along with an MS in mechanical engineering and a BS in aerospace engineering, from UCLA. Prior to attending law school, he worked as an aerospace engineer at Hughes Aircraft.
Successfully litigating large complex verdicts in the tech industry for a industry leader law firm like Irell & Manella means that Iancu has solid multi-tasking and managerial skills. His piece, “Machines & Their Transformations: The Past, Present, and Future of Patentability of Software,” was chosen as one of the best 2010 articles on patent law according to Patent Law Review. Having taught as well as litigated a variety of IP matters has well prepared Mr. Iancu for this new role.
Iancu requires Senate confirmation to make his new role in the administration official.
Thanks to our authors at Sherinian Law for their insight.