United States: Michigan


Brinks Gilson & Lione

A Chicago boutique famous for its technical proficiency and commercial chops, Brinks Gilson & Lione maintains high visibility in the automotive sector via its Michigan team of Jim Cleland and Steven Oberholtzer. Cleland makes his debut in the IAM Patent 1000 this year in recognition of the leadership he has demonstrated in complex patent litigations. Adding to his many successes, he recently earned an inter partes review win for Continental Automotive Systems and secured a favourable settlement for a tier-two supplier in a dispute which had the potential to devastate its business. A dynamic presence both behind the scenes and on the main stage, he sways decision makers to his cause subtly but conclusively. Oberholtzer is all about developing, maintaining and commercialising intellectual assets. He is passionate about cars and the automotive industry, having worked as an engineer at General Motors and as in-house counsel at a tier-one supplier. He is attuned to the risk tolerances of his clients and is regularly sought out for his opinion on infringement and validity issues.

Brooks Kushman PC 

The development of a potent post-grant practice is a central storyline in the Brooks Kushman narrative. The Michigan IP powerhouse amped up its Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) activities in late 2016 by opening a DC office and selecting Lissi Mojica as its leader; meanwhile, closer to home, Frank Angileri and Sangeeta Shah have been performing flawlessly as post-issuance group co-chairs. At this point, Angileri can claim the greatest number of PTAB appearances of any Michigan-based attorney. While these specialists work miracles, much credit for their success must go to president and chair Mark Cantor, who ensures seamless interaction between the firm’s stacked prosecution and litigation groups. Leading the former are Michael Brodbine and John Nemazi, who excel at protecting intangible assets not just domestically, but globally. Both have finely detailed and diverse technical knowledge and both are heavyweight strategists with their fingers on the pulse of developments in their clients’ industries. Anchoring the litigation practice is John LeRoy, an innovative tactician with a deep playbook. He is also a noted authority on standard-essential patents.

Fishman Stewart PLLC

For Bloomfield Hills boutique Fishman Stewart, patents are business assets to be used for the advancement of commercial goals; this line of thinking puts it in sync with the C-suite. Of course, you have to obtain quality patents before you can get anything out of them, and this is where the firm’s extensive nuts and bolts prosecution experience comes into play: over the last two decades, it has cultivated an exceptional patent grant track record at the US Patent and Trademark Office. The group has also developed its mastery of post-grant proceedings. Founding partner Michael Stewart has a sophisticated interdisciplinary patent practice and can protect, enforce and commercialise intellectual property with alacrity. He regularly takes to the podium to speak on important IP topics and is also esteemed as an author; these extra-curricular activities mark him out as one of the Michigan IP bar’s thought leaders.

Foley & Lardner LLP

For companies looking for A-to-Z patent support from a full-service commercial law firm, options are limited; Foley & Lardner has them covered though. Partly as a result of its combined prosecution and litigation strength, the set thrives at the PTAB and, on the petitioner side, has a significantly better-than-average institution rate. Post-grant activities have coloured the practice to a large degree in recent years, but the firm still shines when it comes to the procurement and management of patent rights. Leading the team in Detroit, Marcus Sprow brings order and gives commercial impetus to the sprawling portfolios of some of the largest Foley accounts. Testament to his exceptional expertise in the area, he earns a spot on the IAM Patent 1000’s US national design patents table this year, too.

Harness, Dickey & Pierce, PLC

“One of the best in Michigan for large institutional clients”, Harness, Dickey & Pierce impresses with its precision patent drafting and strategic portfolio management wisdom. Among the hottest topics in US patent law and practice right now is subject matter eligibility and in Gregory Stobbs the firm has a leading authority on software and business method patents – around which the patentability debate is at its liveliest. Stobbs has written multiple treatises on the subject. Another thought leader is Bryant Wade, who enjoys tremendous cachet in Asia – particularly Japan – as a strategic adviser and prosecutor. Coming from a physics background, he has broad-ranging technical expertise. Indeed, scientific fluency is common across the organisation: former Hewlett-Packard engineer Mark Elchuk has a combination of electrical and mechanical expertise that lends itself well to the protection of innovations in the aerospace and automotive sectors; likewise dual litigator and prosecutor David Utykanski, who worked as a design engineer for a top defence contractor before entering the law. Veteran Paul Keller is a civil engineer with experience in the communications, construction and environmental sectors, as well as a knack for keeping his patrons out of trouble.

Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn LLP

Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn maintains a state-of-the-art life sciences patent practice that encompasses global prosecution and litigation; its professionals have all the right technical credentials and many bring engineering and in-house experience to the table. Inspirational leader of the practice Jonathan O’Brien works wonders for pharmaceutical, biotech and medical device companies when it comes to international patent protection, portfolio improvement and optimal IP commercialisation. “Jonathan not only has an incredibly deep scientific knowledge, he has an excellent understanding of the interplay between patents and business. His higher-level expertise on patent and corporate strategy is hard to find – Jonathan is someone you can rely on to help you make good business decisions.” The group’s activities are not restricted to the life sciences: it has heavyweight high-tech patrons including Google, and serves them with the same flair. Bringing the heat in litigation, Michael Huget is another top dog here. He traverses technical boundaries with finesse and has notched up a string of successes in diverse cases recently. With O’Brien’s support, he recently secured a great PTAB result for William Beaumont Hospital against Varian Medical Systems; Beaumont’s radiation treatment patents were found to be valid on a basis often cited since – namely, strong evidence of industry praise and commercial success, and the satisfaction of a long-felt need. One client comments: “Mike and his associates are extremely professional, knowledgeable and diligent. He deserves the highest recommendation, which is why I have transferred all my patent business to Honigman.”

Quinn IP Law

Fired up by innovation in all its forms, Quinn IP Law is a good option for companies more interested in patent quality than patent volume. That said, the sophistication of the firm’s back-office systems enables super-efficient (and cost-effective) delivery, making large projects a cinch. The genius behind it all is Christopher Quinn; he cooks up patent strategies that go straight to the heart of his clients’ businesses, while motivating the team around him to meet the highest standards of work and service. The former Ford in-house counsel cares for some of the biggest names in the car industry. Another commercially oriented, results-driven attorney is Jean McCarthy, a mechanical arts master and perceptive strategist.

Reising Ethington PC 

Propelled by a wave of positive and enthusiastic feedback, Reising Ethington debuts in the IAM Patent 1000 this year. “It can handle any technology you put its way and is responsive and sensitive to customer needs. The quality of its service is more what you’d expect from a large West or East Coast outfit, but being in the Midwest it is more cost effective; its personal touch is another added benefit.” Patent prosecution is meat and drink to the boutique, but litigation is also a strength. Mechanical engineer Matthew Schmidt is well rounded and practises fruitfully in both areas, blending in trademark expertise as well. “He provides the best support whenever it is needed, and turns matters around in very tight timeframes.” Similarly versatile is Eric Jones, a cool-as-ice former F-16 fighter pilot and “true expert in the aerospace and defence fields”. When rock-solid advocacy skills are needed, Richard Hoffmann is the person to call; the experienced lead counsel has handled 70-plus IP litigations, and argued many appeals.

Other recommended experts

Kelly Burris takes the time to get to know her clients on a personal level – the result is that her advice aligns perfectly with their needs. She is a licensed pilot with a love of aerospace technology – and buckets of industry experience – but she works across many sectors and should not be pigeonholed. A utility and design patent prosecution maestro, she runs Detroit boutique Burris Law.


  • Frank A Angileri - Brooks Kushman PC
  • Michael S Brodbine - Brooks Kushman PC
  • Kelly K Burris - Burris Law, PLLC
  • Mark Cantor - Brooks Kushman PC
  • Jim Cleland - Brinks Gilson & Lione
  • Mark D Elchuk - Harness, Dickey & Pierce, PLC
  • Richard W Hoffmann - Reising Ethington PC
  • J Michael Huget - Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn LLP
  • Eric T Jones - Reising Ethington PC
  • Paul A Keller - Harness, Dickey & Pierce, PLC
  • John S LeRoy - Brooks Kushman PC
  • Jean McCarthy - Quinn IP Law
  • John E Nemazi - Brooks Kushman PC
  • Jonathan P O'Brien - Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn LLP
  • Steven Oberholtzer - Brinks Gilson & Lione
  • Christopher W Quinn - Quinn IP Law
  • Matthew Schmidt - Reising Ethington PC
  • Sangeeta G Shah - Brooks Kushman PC
  • Marcus Sprow - Foley & Lardner LLP
  • Michael B Stewart - Fishman Stewart PLLC
  • Gregory Stobbs - Harness, Dickey & Pierce, PLC
  • David Utykanski - Harness, Dickey & Pierce, PLC
  • Bryant Wade - Harness, Dickey & Pierce, PLC