United States Patent and Trademark Office Director Andrei Iancu resigned as director of the agency, receiving high praise from the Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Thom Tillis (North Carolina). Senator Tillis told the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Jan. 19 that Iancu’s leadership was the “gold standard,” and that Iancu had done more than anyone in the past decade to strengthen the U.S. patent system.
Iancu spoke at the Chamber meeting yesterday, saying that the USPTO was the “nation’s epicenter of intellectual property policy and the guardian of America’s innovation economy.” He also again encouraged immediate patent eligibility (under 35 U.S.C 101) reform by Congress, which he characterized as a point of frustration in the IP world. During his term as Chair, the USPTO has issued guidelines on eligibility, though decisions from the U.S. Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit have left much uncertainty which has expanded recently. Iancu noted in his speech that important technologies, such as medical diagnostics, bioinformatics, digital processing, and artificial intelligence are being impacted by patent eligibility confusion.
Senator Tillis agreed in his comments at the Chamber event on the need for eligibility reform, stating that “our patent eligibility jurisprudence is in shambles.” Tillis noted examples of patent ineligible inventions, such as innovative medical diagnostic testing as merely a law of nature, and a garage door opener as an abstract idea.
Iancu also mentioned the National Council for Expanding American Innovation, which seeks to increase innovation diversity, as well as recent changes in trademark and copyright laws.
Iancu was appointed Chair of the USPTO in 2017, after working as an engineer at Hughes Aircraft Company, and then in a California law firm for nearly 20 years. He has a BS in aerospace, aeronautical and astronautical engineering, an MS in engineering, and a law degree, all from UCLA, after immigrating from Romania 40 years ago. He told the Chamber in his farewell speech yesterday that he has “lived the American dream.”
Iancu’s successor has not been named.