Philadelphia, PA intellectual property lawyer John D. Simmons shares his most common advice to clients and talks about his background/experience.
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I think the primary thing that I tell clients is when you first start a project or when you first start a company or a new venture, think about the intellectual property. Oftentimes, people get so wrapped up into jumping into the technology or jumping into this business concept that they miss tricks. They miss protecting their intellectual property, which – now, startups and venture capitalists recognize, the intellectual property is probably their most important asset. And if you’re going to do it right, you gotta do it from the beginning. By the time you’re rolling out the product, it’s probably too late. And oftentimes in this current environment, having intellectual property protected upfront is critical to getting investment or to reselling the company or going public. So when you start with your IP, think of IP first.
So it’s kind of interesting. I never planned to be a lawyer, never planned to become an attorney. I knew I wanted to be an electrical engineer since I was about third grade. Fortunately, my mother has a kind heart. And I took everything apart; sometimes I put it back together, tried to figure out how things worked. And I went on to Drexel University and specialized in electrical engineering and computers and robotics. Was a practicing engineer for ten years, a licensed engineer. I’ve traveled all over the world starting up control systems, designing instrumentation.
And through happenstance, my last employer happened to get a lot of patents. And they were involved, fortunately or unfortunately, in patent litigation and also contract litigation. So I got exposed to the legal world. I met with patent attorneys. I eventually ran research and development. And I said, “This looks like kind of an interesting career.”
So I went to work for Akin Gump as a technical advisor. And Martin Belisario was the one who hired me and mentored me. And also, other people like Clark Jablon and Ron Panitch were great mentors in my career. And I got to do things that weren’t so specialized in electrical engineering. I get a lotta diversity in this practice. And it’s been very rewarding because of that.