Ahead of the curve: Focusing on building relationships, patent management


By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

With a father who took pride in making or restoring things instead of buying off the shelf, patent attorney Nicholas Drysdale was always a “tinkerer” from childhood.

“I often resorted to at least trying to build or fix something instead of buying new,” said Drysdale, an attorney with Harness Dickey in Troy. “I helped my father transplant an engine from one car to another when I wasfive5 years old, and I’ve helped perform several other engine transplants since.”   

At the age of nine, Drysdale built (from parts) and programmed his first personal computer, an IBM compatible 286 running MS DOS.

His early love for computers helped him keep up with, and often be an early adopter of, the latest tech advancements — and this boyhood interest in how things work developed into a passion for helping clients protect their innovations.   

Drysdale’s first step along his career path was a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering with a second major in systems engineering, both with honors, from Oakland University.

Rather than working in the engineering field, he went on to earn his J.D. from WMU-Cooley Law School, where he was in the top eight percent in his class, and enjoyed the large and diverse classes.

“I was able to compete with a larger number of students in each class and also to be exposed to diverse viewpoints,” he said. Insights from his cousin, a patent attorney, drew Drysdale into this legal field.

“There are a lot of areas of law where clients come to you after they’ve been hurt or injured in some way,” he said. “Patent application preparation and prosecution, however, is more proactively trying to protect rights — as a result, the inventors you work with to prepare and prosecute a patent application are often positive and genuinely interested in helping protect their invention.”   

During his Cooley studies, Drysdale clerked at Harness Dickey, learning the legal business along with several other law clerks.

“The collegial atmosphere was a positive environment for me personally, and also encouraged collaboration and teamwork,” he said.

The camaraderie continues — Drysdale and others who clerked together during law school still maintain relatively frequent family gatherings.    

In his work, Drysdale manages several technologies, including mobile searching, semiconductor manufacturing and fabrication (e.g., plasma systems), HVAC, disc drives, wireless communication, satellite TV systems and handheld medical devices. He’s also involved in automotive technologies such as hybrid vehicles, engine/powertrain control, autonomous vehicles, imaging and sound enhancement.    

Since joining HDP, he has authored hundreds of filed patent applications and also authored hundreds U.S. Office Action responses and directed foreign prosecution.
Drysdale has extensive experience with USPTO Appeals, having prepared over 100 Appeal-related Briefs. He has prosecuted hundreds of patent applications to allowance/issue and has worked with clients regarding merger/acquisition related due diligence studies, validity/invalidity studies, and patentability studies.   

While Drysdale has seen many interesting patents, he is still intrigued by the issuance of U.S. Pat. 5,960,441, on Amazon’s one-click ordering.

“There is a lot of controversy about whether the patent is valid or not,” he said.    

Drysdale also was intrigued by U.S. Pub. 2013/0073095 involving a mobile device, such as a cell phone, that detects when it has been dropped and tries to nudge itself to minimize/prevent damage when it hits the ground.

“I thought the concept was pretty interesting and tried to solve a decent problem, namely trying to prevent the device landing on its corner,” he said.

Drysdale appreciates the benefit of this concept even more now his young sons are beginning to use mobile devices.   

He brings a wealth of hands-on business management and customer service experience to his legal work.

Drysdale managed the well-known Tiki Bob’s Cantina in Pontiac during law school. At the same time, he help run another nightclub and, for a short time, managed and trained the general manager at a nightclub in Grand Rapids.

Prior, Drysdale worked in a variety of positions in the service industry. These experiences focused his skills on serving clients, training hires, practicing negotiation skills and managing business operations.   

A native of Berkley in Oakland County, Drysdale moved to Metamora in Lapeer County in fifth grade. He currently makes his home in Birmingham where he and his
wife are involved with the schools of their two young sons.

In his leisure time, Drysdale enjoys woodworking and home improvement projects, and is interested in cars and sports, particularly football and hockey.