United States: Michigan


Brinks Gilson & Lione

With more than 100 years in the IP game, Brinks Gilson & Lione has seen it all. It is home to more than 130 attorneys, patent agents and scientific advisers, making it one of the most technically accomplished outfits in the country. Michigan lawyers Steven Oberholtzer and Jim Cleland anchor a high-calibre practice in the automotive sector. Former General Motors engineer Oberholtzer gets fired up by playing a part in the high-tech evolution of cars. Admired for his visionary thinking, he spots possible challenges to clients’ patents from a mile away. Cleland is a dynamic litigator with an impressive background and a broad technical compass. On the pharmaceutical side, William Boudreaux capitalises on extensive in-house experience; he perfectly understands clients’ positions and offers practical and business-oriented advice.

Brooks Kushman PC 

Brooks Kushman is the undisputed leading IP firm in Michigan, as reflected by its sole occupancy of the IAM Patent 1000 gold tier. A prolific filer with a high-flying post-grant practice, the firm acquits itself with distinction in all its dealings with the patent office; it also maintains a top automotive practice and handles the meatiest litigation without breaking a sweat. The forward-thinking crew recently created new practices, including an open-source software compliance and FRAND litigation department led by trial lawyer John LeRoy. Highly praised dynamos Frank Angileri and Sangeeta Shah co-chair an unbeatable post-grant practice: “Frank is an extremely smart and cool-headed litigator who doesn’t get side-tracked by the emotions that litigation can bring out in people. He thinks through matters sensibly and rationally.” “Sangeeta does an immaculate job of breaking down complex patent law and technological concepts and relates well with other people. She is highly proficient, responsive and committed.” Litigation co-chair Marc Lorelli also receives glowing reviews; “He does a fantastic job putting cases together and delivers superb cross-examinations at trial. He really fights for his clients.” Taking charge on prosecution, Michael Brodbine and John Nemazi are two patent superstars. They cleverly utilise patent analytics to help clients strategically evaluate their portfolios.

Foley & Lardner LLP

Foley & Lardner has the resources to tackle any patent matter in any industry, which is uncommon for a full-service commercial law firm of its stature; it constantly invests in its patent procurement practice while also cultivating an excellent litigation and post-grant record. Taking the lead in Detroit is Marcus Sprow, a utility and design patent ace who manages the portfolios of some of the firm’s largest clients. He excels in the energy storage, batteries, fuel cells and electric vehicles domains.

Harness, Dickey & Pierce, PLC

Harness, Dickey & Pierce can take any invention and transform it into an issued patent in the blink of an eye. Its revered prosecution practice stars Paul Keller, Mark Elchuk, Bryant Wade and David Utykanski. As a former litigator, Keller knows that every word of the patents he writes could be put under the microscope in court; the rights he procures are watertight. Elchuk, who represents one of the largest research laboratories in the world, is profoundly knowledgeable regarding electrical and mechanical technologies, making him a favourite in the aerospace industry. A global relationship builder, Wade is a trusted adviser to many Asian innovators. As a prosecutor and litigator, tenacious Utykanski is well placed to strategically guide clients.


Honigman is a go-to firm for top life sciences companies seeking input on global strategy. IP department chair Jonathan O’Brien is primed and ready – he serves as lead US procurement and global IP strategy counsel to Takeda and many others and does an outstanding job. One client comments, “I have worked with Jonathan for many years and hold the firm conviction that he is a superb patent attorney. Jonathan has a deep knowledge of FDA [Food and Drug Administration] law and the intricacies of the Hatch-Waxman Act. He has a keen business sense and understands what is and isn’t important to consider for drug company executives to make difficult decisions relating to their intellectual property. He is brilliant, very experienced, extremely hard working, and a nice guy. I cannot emphasise enough his keen practicality, humbleness and devotion to his clients. He’s the real deal.” Another counsellor par excellence is Brett Krueger, who focuses on high-tech and mechanical engineering matters. He provides patent portfolio management services to Google regarding speech translation, machine learning, AI, distributed storage systems and robotics technologies. Contentious maven Michael Huget is an experienced Eastern District of Michigan litigator – he has served as counsel in more than 250 cases there. He currently represents Protect America against Alarm.com in a high-stakes case testing the applicability of the TC Heartland decision to companies with virtual businesses.

Quinn IP Law

For those looking for “clean, solid and consistent” patent prosecution services, Quinn IP Law is a wise choice. A non-billable hours firm with a well-oiled quality review system, the boutique delivers groundbreaking IP products at fixed and reasonable costs. The president and cornerstone of the firm, Christopher Quinn cultivates long-lasting and close connections with clients. “Chris’s passion, strategic thinking and ability to deliver efficiently while maintaining the highest standards set him apart. He’s a top expert and deserves all the recognition he gets.” Head of the firm’s mechanical patent prosecution practice, Jean McCarthy is another name for the contact book. “A real pro” in the Michigan patent sphere, “Jean is a very capable writer, extremely bright and super dedicated to her profession; she’s simply never wrong about anything”.

Reising Ethington PC 

“Always responsive to clients’ needs” and able to “communicate effectively with people at all organisational levels”, Reising Ethington continues to garner superb market feedback. A boutique where the prosecution and litigation teams work harmoniously, it is an adept all-round performer. On the non-contentious side, Eric Jones is an “extremely driven and fantastic patent attorney” with a “detailed and extensive knowledge of patent law, especially pertaining to the aerospace industry”. Thanks to his piloting background in the Air Force and Michigan Air National Guard he “brings a lot of unique experience to bear in his practice”. He handles patent fillings with “the utmost professionalism and care” so clients “feel in safe hands”. Ruling the electrical engineering space, James Stevens is a “very capable, steady, solid and extremely knowledgeable” lawyer who provides “excellent client service”. He is a highly sought-after opinion giver. Excelling as a global portfolio manager, Colin Cicotte also shines in IP litigation. He keeps the firm on the cutting edge in hot areas, such as autonomous vehicle development. Matthew Schmidt is a triple threat – he prosecutes, enforces and monetises patents with a deft touch. Sources praise his efficiency, noting that it does not come at the cost of quality. The most experienced litigator on deck is Richard Hoffmann, whose representations in the federal district courts and at the appellate level – including the Supreme Court – number more than 100. He focuses only on things that will make significant developments and does not waste time chasing false leads.

Other recommended experts

Eric Dobrusin of The Dobrusin Law Firm makes his debut in the IAM Patent 1000 this year. “An effective facilitator with a very strong patent practice”, Dobrusin is a leading figure, not only in patent prosecution but also alternative dispute resolution. A founding member of Fishman Stewart, Michael Stewart knows all the intricacies of patent law. Active on both sides of the contentious/non-contentious divide, Stewart is as comfortable delivering oral arguments before the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit as he is filing domestic and foreign patent applications protecting diverse technologies from telecoms to nuclear engineering.

Individuals: litigation

  • Frank A Angileri - Brooks Kushman PC
  • E Colin Cicotte - Reising Ethington PC
  • Jim Cleland - Brinks Gilson & Lione
  • Richard W Hoffmann - Reising Ethington PC
  • J Michael Huget - Honigman
  • John S LeRoy - Brooks Kushman PC
  • Marc Lorelli - Brooks Kushman PC
  • Matthew Schmidt - Reising Ethington PC
  • Sangeeta G Shah - Brooks Kushman PC
  • Michael B Stewart - Fishman Stewart PLLC

Individuals: prosecution

  • William Boudreaux - Brinks Gilson & Lione
  • Michael S Brodbine - Brooks Kushman PC
  • E Colin Cicotte - Reising Ethington PC
  • Eric Dobrusin - The Dobrusin Law Firm
  • Mark D Elchuk - Harness, Dickey & Pierce, PLC
  • Eric T Jones - Reising Ethington PC
  • Paul A Keller - Harness, Dickey & Pierce, PLC
  • Brett Krueger - Honigman
  • Jean McCarthy - Quinn IP Law
  • John E Nemazi - Brooks Kushman PC
  • Jonathan P O'Brien - Honigman
  • Steven Oberholtzer - Brinks Gilson & Lione
  • Christopher W Quinn - Quinn IP Law
  • Sangeeta G Shah - Brooks Kushman PC
  • Marcus Sprow - Foley & Lardner LLP
  • James D Stevens - Reising Ethington PC
  • Michael B Stewart - Fishman Stewart PLLC
  • David Utykanski - Harness, Dickey & Pierce, PLC
  • Bryant Wade - Harness, Dickey & Pierce, PLC