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Irell Welcomes Back Former USPTO Director Andrei Iancu


Irell & Manella LLP announces the return of Andrei Iancu, the former undersecretary of commerce for intellectual property and director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Effective April 1, 2021, Iancu rejoins Irell as a partner, with his practice focused on intellectual property litigation and counseling.

“Andrei is one of the most prominent and sought-after figures in IP today and we couldn’t be happier to welcome him back to the firm,” said Ben Hattenbach, a member of Irell’s Executive Committee. “His background as USPTO director and decades of experience as one of the country’s top IP litigators will be of significant value to our clients.”

As head of the USPTO, Iancu oversaw one of the largest IP offices in the world, an agency with approximately 13,000 employees and an annual budget of more than $3.5 billion. He was also the principal advisor in the administration on domestic and international IP issues. Among Iancu’s initiatives as director was the creation of the National Council for Expanding American Innovation, a group of industry, academia and government leaders tasked with helping the USPTO develop a comprehensive national strategy to broaden participation in the innovation ecosystem demographically, geographically and economically.

“I’m thrilled to rejoin my friends and colleagues at Irell and practice alongside the nation’s very best lawyers,” said Iancu. “I look forward to resuming my work helping America’s leading innovators with all of their IP matters.”

Prior to his government service, Iancu served as the managing partner of Irell from 2012 to 2018, the maximum allowable tenure. During his two decades at the firm, he represented clients in a variety of high-profile matters in district courts, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, the U.S. International Trade Commission and the USPTO. In addition to litigation, Iancu was involved in all other aspects of IP practice, including prosecution, due diligence and licensing. He represented plaintiffs and defendants across the technical and scientific spectra, including those associated with medical devices, genetic testing, therapeutics, the internet, telephony, TV broadcasting, video game systems, and computer peripherals.

“Andrei is a superb lawyer and fabulous leader – and, an outstanding human being to boot,” said Morgan Chu, chair of the Irell’s Litigation group. “We know and love Andrei, and again will have fun practicing law with him.”

Throughout his career, Iancu has been widely recognized for his work, earning accolades from publications including Chambers USA, Intellectual Asset Management, Managing IP, the Daily Journal, California Lawyer magazine, Los Angeles Business Journal, Legal 500, and many others. Most recently, he received the Excellence Award from the American Intellectual Property Law Association (AIPLA). In 2019, he received the IP Champion Award from the Intellectual Property Owners Education Foundation for “his extraordinary leadership in advocating for the value of intellectual property to stimulate the progress of innovation.” Iancu also received the 2020 IEEE-USA Award for Distinguished Public Service, for “his achievement of restoring balance and confidence in the U.S. patent system.”

Earlier this year, Iancu co-founded the Renewing American Innovation Project at the bipartisan Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). He previously taught patent law at UCLA School of Law, and he is a sought-after speaker and writer on issues related to IP and innovation.

Iancu earned his J.D. from UCLA School of Law. He also obtained an M.S. in mechanical engineering and a B.S. in aerospace engineering from UCLA. Prior to his legal career, Iancu was an engineer at Hughes Aircraft Company.

Iancu was born in Romania and has lived in the United States since the age of 12. He and his wife, Dr. Luiza C. Iancu, have two children.

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