Andrus was founded in 1939 by Elwin A. Andrus. Elwin was born on March 28, 1904 and was raised on a farm near East Troy, Wisconsin. Elwin attended college at the Milwaukee State Normal School (the predecessor institution of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee), and graduated from the University of Wisconsin Law School in 1928.
The office was initially located in the First Wisconsin National Bank Building, at the corner of Mason and Wisconsin in Milwaukee. In 1990 the firm moved to its current location at 100 East Wisconsin Avenue.
Elwin Andrus opened the firm as a solo practice on October 1, 1939, which was an inauspicious time to open a law office—just a month before, Germany’s invasion of Poland marked the beginning of World War II. Economically, the country was just coming out of the recession of 1937-38 that followed the great depression of 1929-1933 – industrial production was down over 30% and unemployment stood at 20%.
Likewise, the business of protecting intellectual property seemed unpromising at the time. In 1939, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office issued just about 49,000 patents, and that number shrunk to 29,000 patents by 1945. By comparison, today the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office issues approximately 25,000 patents each month.
In 1941, Merle E. Sceales joined the firm and the firm subsequently became known as Andrus & Sceales. By 1952, Glenn O. Starke and Eugene R. Sawall had joined the firm and the practice continued to grow. In 1968, the firm was renamed Andrus, Sceales, Starke & Sawall. And in 2013, the firm became known as Andrus Intellectual Property Law.
Before opening the practice, Elwin had served as in-house counsel for A.O. Smith Corporation in Milwaukee. Elwin continued this partnership with A.O. Smith while in private practice, and much of the firm’s early work was devoted to protecting A.O. Smith’s innovations. At that time, A.O. Smith was a diversified manufacturer of industrial goods including auto parts, pressure vessels, pumps, and water heaters.
In 1944, the firm began representing the Kiekhaefer Corporation, which was a small corporation based in Cedarburg, Wisconsin. Kiekhaefer was dedicated to designing and producing the best possible boat engine. Kiekhaefer became known as Mercury Marine and merged with Brunswick in the 1960s. Over the years, Andrus has helped secure hundreds of patents and trademarks for Kiekhaefer, Brunswick and Mercury Marine.
Throughout our history, we have represented over 6,000 clients in a variety of industrial and technical areas. We have represented individuals, small businesses, and major corporations, including major multi-national clients from the United States, Europe, Australia and the Far East.
Andrus has a distinguished and long-standing reputation for providing world-class legal service exclusively in the area of intellectual property law, and we are honored to continue to serve our clients as their partner in innovation.