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Ecolab Inc.

Attorneys of the Year: Andrew Sorensen

Andrew Sorensen

Ecolab Inc.

When Ecolab, the St. Paul-based provider of water, hygiene and energy technology, has a patent or intellectual-property issue that needs solving, it turns to Andy Sorensen.

Sorensen has been in-house counsel at Ecolab since 1998. In that capacity, he’s taken on responsibility for the company’s entire patent portfolio, patent litigation and IP licensing.

Last year was particularly fruitful for Sorensen. Much of his time was occupied with work in the aftermath of Ecolab’s acquisition of Nalco Holding Company, which took place in late 2011. With the acquisition of Nalco, a leading water treatment and process improvement company, Ecolab nearly doubled in size.

With Nalco in the fold, Ecolab was put on pace to register annual sales in 2012 of $12 billion. What was of greater consequence for Sorensen, though, was that the acquisition brought with it hundreds of patents and patent applications that would need in-house management — all while Ecolab’s own significant patent portfolio was growing on its own.

Sorensen’s role in managing all that activity has been substantial. As head of the combined company’s in-house patent department, he’s been responsible for managing new patent portfolios and new employees, including those in Nalco’s home base of Illinois.

While that was happening, Sorensen was helping Ecolab prepare for another significant acquisition, that of Champion Technologies and its related company Corsicana Technologies. That $2.2 billion deal, announced last October, also brought with it numerous challenges that Sorensen is helping the company to meet.

Sorensen, a graduate of William Mitchell College of Law, has an undergraduate degree in chemical engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, making him well-suited for the patent and IP challenges of a chemistry- and technology-focused company such as Ecolab.

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