Southfield attorney David Berry is passionate about patents. In fact, the patent litigator and intellectual property attorney is so passionate that he helped launch the Michigan Patent Pro Bono Project at the end of last year. The goal? To provide patent legal services to low-income inventors and entrepreneurs across Michigan by matching qualified clients with volunteer patent attorneys. So far things are going well, as the project has paired many qualified clients with volunteer attorneys for services.
Berry helped launch the program, which is part of a nationwide network of patent pro bono programs organized under the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act, late last year. He began the initial process of creating the project by meeting with representatives from leading IP firms and corporate IP departments to assess the support for a patent pro bono initiative. He also organized a steering committee comprised of representatives from major firms and corporations, including Ford Motor Company, Stryker, Dow Corning, Brooks Kushman, Honigman, Dykema, Young Basile, Dickinson Wright, and Harness Dickey & Pierce.
As chair, Berry and other committee members met with USPTO’s national pro bono coordinator to develop the project’s policies and procedures. Since the program launch, he and SBM Pro Bono Initiative Pro Bono Service Counsel Robert Mathis have conducted orientation sessions for volunteer attorneys in Grand Rapids, East Lansing, and Southfield, with more training programs planned in the near future. Berry also serves as a member of the project’s screening committee, determining whether prospective clients meet the guidelines of the project. The project will continue to develop its pro bono attorney panel and provide outreach to prospective clients to increase the number of low-income inventors served.
Berry has been a member of the State Bar of Michigan since 2002, when he relocated from Boston, Massachusetts. For 12 years, he was a professor of law and director of the graduate program in intellectual property law at WMU Cooley Law School in Auburn Hills, and continues to serve as distinguished professor emeritus at the school. He is a founding master of the Michigan Intellectual Property American Inn of Court, part of the Linn Inn Alliance, and currently serves as secretary and treasurer of the Intellectual Property Law Section of the State Bar of Michigan. Berry currently is of counsel at Brooks Kushman PC, focusing on patent litigation and intellectual property law. He represents clients in all phases of litigation, including pre-trial proceedings, bench and jury trials, and appeals. He has also served as a vice chair of the International Trademark Association Academic Committee, and received the INTA’s Volunteer Service Award in 2010 for developing innovative programs directed to academics and students interested in trademark law.
—Eisha Vatsal, Robert Mathis, and Lynn Ingram contributed to this story.