Profiles in Practice: Intellectual Property
Profiles in Practice highlights some of the many ways that alumni put their degrees to use in a single field, niche area, or geographic location. In this premier edition of the feature, we put a spotlight on alumni whose work involved intellectual property.
Maisa Frank '10
How I would describe my job: My practice is what I call IP-adjacent. I am primarily a litigator and a lot of my clients are franchisors. In those cases, I often handle “soft IP” claims, primarily under the Lanham Act—claims like trademark infringement, trade dress infringement, and unfair competition. More recently, I’ve also started counseling clients on false advertising issues.
What I like about my practice: My practice allows me to help clients preserve the immense value of their IP and also enforce the contracts and business arrangements they make to license it. I like having that window into the full breadth of my clients’ businesses.
What a “typical” day looks like: There is no typical day! One day I might spend the whole day working on a brief, the next day I might be deposing witnesses or interviewing client employees. But in a civil litigation practice like mine, I spend a lot of time reading and writing.
An interesting job experience I’ve had: I recently had a case where, following the termination of a franchise agreement which granted the former franchisee a license to use the franchisor’s proprietary marks, the former franchisee continued using a portion of a client’s service mark and a trademarked building design on a competing business. This case allowed us to explore the boundaries of an infringement claim.
How I like to spend my free time: These days my time outside of work is mostly spent with my 5- and almost-3-year-old. We do outdoor activities every day—especially bike riding, hiking, and exploring new parks.
Matthew J. Goggin ’90
How I would describe my job: I help clients with problems relating to patent infringement. Sometimes this involves patent litigation and everything that goes with it, but often patent issues that arise in the ordinary course of a client’s business require legal analysis and counseling. A client may ask us to analyze a product, either their own or a competitor’s, and provide an opinion as to whether the product infringes a patent. This helps the client decide whether they need to change their product, take a license from a patent owner, or sometimes demand that another company stop infringing the client’s own patent. Infringement opinions are frequently the first step toward litigation, but perhaps more often they are useful tools for resolving problems without litigation.
What a “typical” day entails: I have never been bored with my work, and after 30 years, I still find it challenging and interesting. Every time I start working on a new case, I need to learn about a new technology, and it is like being a student all over again. I often spend several days early in a case studying the patents involved and the products that are disputed. I read the patent text several times, mark up the patent drawings with colored pencils, and consult others to help me answer questions I have from my reading.
What I like most about what I do: One of the things I like most about my job is large projects—whether they be writing briefs or oral arguments or preparing the examination of a witness for trial—that require me to explain the complicated technology of a case in accurate yet straightforward language that everyone can understand. When my kids were young, I liked to talk with them about the cases I was working on. If they understood what I was saying, and I could always tell, then I knew I was on the right track. If not, I knew I had more work to do. I wasn’t there yet.
How I like to spend my free time: The pandemic and associated shutdown of almost everything has undoubtedly shaped my interests and how I like to spend my time. A few years ago, I knew almost nothing about archery. Now I own three bows and dozens of arrows and judge my worth most days by how well I am shooting at 20 yards. Aside from archery, I enjoy hiking and snowshoeing with my wife and spending time with my three grown sons when possible.
Mitch Oestreich ’13
How I would describe my job: I examine patent applications from inventors and companies to determine if their application is in acceptable legal form and to determine if their invention is eligible for a patent.
What a “typical” day entails: It varies, but the two main parts of patent examining are searching for “prior art” (usually existing patents) to see if an application is or isn’t eligible for a patent, and writing Office Actions, which explain our position regarding why an invention is or isn’t eligible for a patent.
What I like most about what I do: The work/life balance. It’s about as good as I’ve ever seen. I was able to move to Colorado to work from home; I don’t have to wear formal clothes; I get to hang out with my dogs all day; and I start and stop work when I choose every day.
An interesting job experience I’ve had: I’ve examined applications for some things that I’ve actually interacted with outside of work, like Apple’s lightning cable, Google’s "Google Glass" headsets, Oculus VR headsets—and I’ve also seen some really interesting futuristic stuff like meta-materials and wireless power devices.
How I like to spend my free time: I spend a lot of afternoons cooking and baking; I go hiking with my wife and dogs a lot on weekends and in the summer; we like to travel and play video/board games; and we’re exploring the brewery scene out here in Colorado lately.
Leah Raddatz, M.S. Patent Law ’18
How I would describe my job: At Run8, I work with a team of patent agents to build patent portfolios and develop patent strategies exclusively for startups. Personally, I work with clients in a diverse range of fields, including biotechnology, agriculture, food science, consumer goods, ad tech, and data security.
What a “typical” day entails: On any given day, I can expect to participate in an invention capture or strategy session with a client; brainstorm through some tech with my boss or another coworker; spend time drafting a patent application or working through a patent strategy; and have (virtual) coffee or lunch with the Run8 team.
What I like most about what I do: Working with startups. Our clients are passionate about what they do and I get exposure to their cutting-edge technologies—I definitely learn something new each day. Separately, I really enjoy being part of a small and dedicated team. (When we are not working, you can catch us wax carving for the silversmithing project we started as a team during quarantine.)
An interesting job experience I’ve had: I have worked on projects with clients focused on developing living plant sensors for protecting crops; a plant-based ice cream that is functionally like dairy (and tastes like it too!); and a pathogen-sensing and -detection network for protecting indoor spaces. The tech and our clients always keep it interesting.
How I like to spend my free time: I spend a lot of time exploring new hikes around the Bay Area and love planning camping and backpacking trips with friends. I also enjoy yoga, playing board games, and catching up with friends and family.
Veena Tripathi ’19
How I would describe my job: I would describe my job as a client-focused IP attorney. The majority of my practice is focused on patent litigation, but I also dedicate ample time to other IP and technology-related legal issues that my clients are facing.
What a “typical” day entails: Can I give the prototypical lawyer answer and say, “It depends?” My days are spent on a wide variety of projects, including typical litigation work, such as discovery and legal research, and more patent-focused work, like developing infringement or invalidity theories, etc. I work closely with partners, senior associates, and sometimes clients, depending on my level of involvement in the case.
What I like most about what I do: I really enjoy the people I work with and the opportunity to learn from such talented attorneys on interesting and complex cases. I also enjoy seeing how legal developments in IP/technology affect business decisions for my clients.
An interesting job experience I’ve had: Attending an arbitration where I was the only associate on the case. It was great being the “go-to” person when we were in the trenches. It was also great to see, in real time, how all the work I had put in led to a good outcome for our client.
How I like to spend my free time: Running, taking my dog for a walk around the lakes, and watching a documentary while enjoying take out from a new restaurant.
Professor Christopher M. Turoski ’98
Director, Patent Law Program
University of Minnesota Law School
How I would describe my job: I teach and mentor the next generation of patent attorneys and agents.
What a “typical” day entails: I wear many hats: curricular designer, admissions officer, student services provider, career counselor, business development manager, alumni engager, financial specialist, program communicator, and intellectual property advocate.
What I like most about what I do: I help students successfully transition into their first patent career.
An interesting job experience I’ve had: I lobbied the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to diversify the patent practitioner population by removing structural barriers and supporting students who seek a career in the field of patents.