Bruce Lehman, the former commissioner of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office during the Clinton administration, has joined Baltimore-based Whiteford, Taylor & Preston as a senior counsel in the firm’s global and intellectual property groups. He is a former partner in Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld’s D.C. office.
Lehman, who served in the USPTO's top post and as the assistant secretary of commerce at the U.S. Department of Commerce from 1993 until 1998, says his practice is focused on representing clients on all aspects of domestic and international intellectual property law. He will also work with clients on public law and policy. Lehman has a home in Baltimore but says that most of his work is centered in Washington. He says he will be commuting back and forth frequently.
Lehman's first day at Whiteford was Dec. 17 and says he has brought his clients with him from Akin Gump. He declined to name any of them, saying “I hate discussing them without talking to them first.”
Lehman is the founder of the non-profit organization, the International Intellectual Property Institute, which celebrated its 10th anniversary on Dec. 31. The institute focuses on increasing intellectual property law awareness globally and teaching developing countries how to use intellectual property rights. Lehman says, "We've maybe made a small dent, but we really need more resources."
At Whiteford, Lehman says he will dedicate his time “80-20” to Whiteford and the institute, respectively. He says that the day-to-day operations of the institute will be handled by vice president Molly Torsen.
Lehman says he has no "ill will" toward Akin Gump and was “very fond of my time there.”
Akin Gump's intellectual property practice got leaner this year. At the beginning of 2008, Akin Gump’s IP group in Philadelphia parted ways with the mega-firm after an eight-year stint and reverted back to running itself as an IP boutique named Panitch Schwarze Belisario & Nadel. In August, Akin Gump's IP practice faced a wave of partners leaving with D.C. partners Joseph Esposito, Todd Stenerson, and Michael O’Shea all going to Hunton & Williams.