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Valley IP Lawyer to Join PTO
2013-08-06 04:34:38 PM
SAN FRANCISCO — The co-chair of Lawyers for Obama in the last presidential election is headed from Silicon Valley to Washington D.C.
Covington & Burling partner Andrew Byrnes will join Obama administration as chief of staff of the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office after 16 years of practicing intellectual property law in the Valley. Prior to joining Covington in 2008, Byrnes was a shareholder at Heller Ehrman.
Come September, Byrnes will formally have the title of chief of staff in the Office of the Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The role includes advising the PTO chief, overseeing public engagements and coordinating with other agencies. Byrnes will be replacing Peter Pappas, who vacated the post at the end of June.
Though Byrnes said he had not considered "going into public service full time" before this appointment, he has dabbled in the public sector for years. As a partner at Covington, he spends the majority of his time representing emerging and established companies — including technology companies in the software, semiconductor, telecommunications and Internet sectors — in patent and complex commercial disputes. However, he also represents candidates, political committees, corporations and non-profit organizations in election and political law matters, such as campaign finance regulation and lobbyist regulation.
"I've always sat at the intersection of technology law and politics," Byrnes said. "This role is a great next step."
Byrnes has also served as co-chair of the Finance Committee of the California Democratic Party and chair of the San Mateo County Democratic Party. He was national co-chair of Lawyers for Obama and Technology for Obama in 2012.
"My goal has always been to make an impact on peoples' lives, and this particular role has been the greatest opportunity I've had to do that on a larger scale, and I'm really excited about that," said Byrnes.
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