As expected and is usual, Andrei Iancu has stepped-down from his post as Undersecretary of Commerce and USPTO Director a few hours before the conclusion of Donald Trump’s four years as president. Iancu will be remembered as being professional and engaged with the IP community throughout his three-year leadership. Every day Iancu spoke about the storied history of our patent system and its future potential. Iancu has been seen as more “pro-patentee” than his predecessor Michelle Lee, especially in ways that he transformed elements of the Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB).
Iancu wrote the following letter to his PTO Colleagues announcing his resignation:
It is with great pride and respect that I bid you farewell as Director of this remarkable agency, the nation’s epicenter of intellectual property policy and the guardian of America’s innovation economy. Thank you for the privilege to serve with you these past three years.
We have accomplished much together, and all of it was made possible by your exemplary professionalism, hard work, and dedication to public service. Everywhere I went during my tenure as Director, I received accolades about our agency and its employees. The USPTO has a unique culture of excellence that is second to none. And it is all because of you.
Together, we have balanced and strengthened America’s IP system, clarified some of its thorniest issues, and increased the reliability and predictability of the patents and trademarks we issue. Together, we have overcome challenges and navigated a government shutdown due to a lapse in funding, as well as the ongoing pandemic, without interruptions to our services. And through the National Council for Expanding American Innovation and other efforts, together we have laid the groundwork for a renaissance in American innovation, and for an IP ecosystem in which all Americans can partake irrespective of their geographic location or demographic status.
Born of the Constitution and steeped in history, America’s IP system is a crown jewel, a gold standard. You are its guardians. What you do here enables the greatest minds in the world to create and bring to market the tools that improve the human condition. It is hard to imagine a more consequential mission.
One of my favorite books is “The Boys in the Boat,” the true Depression-era story of nine hard-working young Americans who overcame all the odds to win the gold medal in rowing at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin. In order to succeed at the things that matter, their boat maker told them they had to give themselves up to it completely: “When you were done and walked away from the boat,” he said, “you had to feel that you had left a piece of yourself behind in it forever; a bit of your heart.”
I’m leaving a bit of my heart here, at the USPTO, forever.
With warm regards,
Although I have not heard, I expect that Laura Peter (Deputy Director) will also be resigning by Noon on January 20. Under ordinary succession process, Drew Hirshfeld, Commissioner for Patents, would take charge as the acting director until a successor is nominated by the new President and confirmed by the Senate. Hirshfeld has continually shown himself to be a solid manager with deep understanding of the patent law issues — something needed for the 10,000+ person office.
Congratulations Andrei Iancu!