Stuart J. Olstad– Partner, Patent Attorney
My formal education is in mechanical engineering, which is actually a very diverse type, it’s kind of general engineering. You have a touch of thermal sciences, of controls, of structures and you know, there’s all sorts of things that are folded in a mechanical engineering degree. Some time ago, I did quite a bit of software development, although it’s the kind of software development that people don’t do anymore. It’s like coding in the old Fortran and stuff like that book. But the point is that I know how computer programming is structured and all that, so I do mechanical arts patents, I can do also electrical at some level, control systems, but that’s also kind of a crossover between electrical and mechanical. And then software stuff. The kinds of clients that I have, I’ve done a number of medical device patents. They range from ablation catheters to spinal implants, to steering handles for catheters, and stuff like that.
Also, I’ve done some patenting on diabetes apps for smartphones and that sort of thing. The medical devices are where it’s very patent-intensive. It’s very driven by the patent system, so that you not only have to make sure you have something that’s patentable, something you can grab onto, but you also have to make sure that whatever it is you’re doing, you don’t step on someone else’s toes,. So you’re both concerned about offense and defense when you’re patenting in the medical device space.
I was one of the weird ones when it came to engineering in that I actually enjoyed technical writing. A lot of engineers can’t stand it, and so what I found myself doing was writing papers and stuff. I very much enjoyed that. Of course your boss. “Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. You know, that’d be great if you could present this paper at some conference or something,” but they wouldn’t pay for it. So you’d end up kind of doing what you love without getting paid for it, and so you couldn’t do very much of it. Then one time I had a patent attorney come and ask me these questions about something I was working on and I saw what he did. It’s like, you know, “You get paid to do this?” That was where I kind of made the turn toward patent law. And then of course, just general law itself, I find very fascinating, just the practice of law generally.