For the past 44 years Bruce Lehman has practiced law, advised lawmakers and made policy at the local, state, national and international levels in various capacities as a public servant, diplomat, attorney and nonprofit executive. While he is best known for his role in shaping the development of intellectual property
law both nationally and globally, his long career also included significant contributions in the areas of civil liberties, national security, health policy and public administration.
Currently, he devotes much of his time to the International Intellectual Property Institute (IIPI) where he serves as board chairman. IIPI is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, based in Washington, D.C. which he founded in December 1998. The Institute is a think tank and development organization that promotes the
creation of modern intellectual property systems and the use of intellectual property rights as a mechanism for investment, technology transfer and the creation of wealth in all countries of the world. In addition to his
work with IIPI, Mr. Lehman serves as Senior Advisor to 1624 Capital, LLC, an investment fund specializing in patents and is a member of the Legal Advisory Council of LegalZoom, an Internet-based provider of legal tools for individuals and small businesses. Also, he is counsel to several artists’ rights
groups that seek meaningful copyright protection for visual artists. In that capacity he has drafted legislation, advised Congress and filed Supreme Court amicus briefs on behalf of fair copyright protection for visual artists.
Soon after taking office in 1993 President Bill Clinton nominated Bruce Lehman to the post of Assistant Secretary of Commerce and U.S. commissioner of patents and trademarks. Subsequently, as a result of legislation developed by Mr. Lehman and his colleagues working under Vice President Al Gore’s re-inventing government initiative, the USPTO’s management structure was simplified and the title of its leader was changed to Undersecretary of Commerce and Director of the USPTO. However, the responsibilities and position of the Undersecretary in the government hierarchy remain unchanged from Mr. Lehman’s tenure as Assistant Secretary and Commissioner.
As the Clinton administration’s primary representative for intellectual property rights protection, he was a key player on these issues, both domestically and internationally. At the request of the president, he served concurrently in the fall of 1997 as acting chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, which
fosters and recognizes the work of America’s artistic and creative community.
Mr. Lehman’s work in the Clinton Administration was recognized in 1994 by The National Law Journal which named him its “Lawyer of the Year.” In 1997 the public-policy magazine National Journal named
him as one of the 100 most influential men and women in Washington, noting, “In today’s Information Age, the issue of intellectual property rights is no longer an arcane concern, but a vital part of U.S. trade policy.
Since taking over his current posts in 1993, Lehman has been the Clinton Administration’s outspoken voice on such matters here and abroad.”
Serving as the leader of the U.S. delegation to WIPO’s December 1996 Diplomatic Conference on Certain Copyright and Neighboring Rights Questions, Mr. Lehman concluded negotiations that resulted in the
adoption of two treaties: the WIPO Copyright Treaty and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty. By updating international copyright law for the digital age, the treaties have greatly facilitated the growth of online digital commerce over the Internet. Mr. Lehman’s guidance on the development of the intellectual
property provisions of the Uruguay Round Agreement, now known as TRIPS (Trade Related Aspects of
Intellectual Property), has enabled American creators and inventors to more easily protect their creations from piracy throughout the world.
Mr. Lehman also chaired the Working Group on Intellectual Property Rights of the National Information Infrastructure Task Force. In September 1995 the Working Group released Intellectual Property and the
National Information Infrastructure, which recommended changes in copyright protection of intellectual property in the networked environment. These recommendations served as the basis for the WIPO treaties
and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
From 1999 to 2008, during the tenure of Director General Kamil Idris, Mr. Lehman served on the Policy Advisory Commission of the World Intellectual Property Organization, headquartered in Geneva. From 2000 to 2004 Mr. Lehman returned to law practice as Senior Counsel to the law firm of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld in Washington, DC.
On February 7, 2006, Mr. Lehman was honored as one of 23 initial inductees to the newly created International IP Hall of fame, a project sponsored by the London-based, Intellectual Property Asset Management Magazine. He was one of ten living original members of the Hall of Fame which also included historic figures such as Thomas Jefferson and Victor Hugo. Mr. Lehman is holds both a B.S. and a J.D. degree from the University of Wisconsin, Madison and served
as a First Lieutenant in the United States Army.