USPTO Head Iancu ’96 Offers Insights on Patent Law

20190304 AndreiIancuDistinguished UCLA School of Law alumnus Andrei Iancu ’96 returned on Feb. 22 to offer an inside look from the highest reaches of the federal government into the most pressing issues in patent law.

A longtime patent-law lecturer at UCLA Law and former managing partner of Irell & Manella, Iancu was confirmed as Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in early 2018. As the head of the USPTO, he oversees one of the primary federal agencies that govern intellectual property rights.

The event was the latest in the IN-DC series of presentations sponsored by UCLA Law’s Ziffren Center for Media, Entertainment, Technology and Sports Law. Iancu spoke in conversation with UCLA Law Professor Douglas Lichtman, an expert in the law of patents and technology, before leading Los Angeles patent practitioners, UCLA Law faculty members, alumni and students.

During the 90-minute conversation, Iancu expounded on many of the primary areas of concern in patent law, which is often at the heart of scientific and technological innovation, trade and knowledge. These included the intricacies involved in reviewing more than 300,000 patents each year, as well as his efforts to streamline the application and approval process and to bring more women and minorities into the invention field.

“No system is perfect, and the patent system in particular is very complex,” Iancu said, adding that he opts to focus on the system’s tremendous successes in fostering ingenuity, which greatly benefit society.

In addition to his law degree, Iancu holds a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering and a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from UCLA. Previously, he worked as an engineer at Hughes Aircraft.