Lawyer brings engineering expertise to field of IP law


By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

Intellectual property lawyer Dan Bliss was once asked to prepare a patent application on a perpetual motion machine. Before starting, he advised the inventor to conduct experiments and supply results for the patent application.

“Since it would be difficult–or even impossible–to obtain experimental results, I never heard from that inventor again,” he recalls.

An attorney with Howard & Howard in Royal Oak, Bliss refers to himself as the “utility player” on the baseball team.

“I play every position and typically fill a position when needed,” he says.

That includes filing and managing several hundred trademarks for businesses, in the United States and overseas; drafting and reviewing contracts and licenses for patents, trademarks, and copyrights; and prosecuting and defending lawsuits involving patents, trademarks, copyrights, unfair competition, trade secrets, and non-competition. 

“Whatever needs to be done in the intellectual property area, I’m willing to do it,” he says.

His expertise spans a wide range of technology including mechanical, electrical, chemical, materials, computer software, and business methods.

In a project for a major automotive OEM on an electronically controlled automatic transmission, Bliss spent 9 months preparing more than 50 patent applications on different inventions for the transmission, all signed by the inventors and filed on the same day. He then prosecuted these applications before the USPTO to obtain patents. One of these patents allowed the inventors to be named “Inventor of the Year” in 1990 by the Intellectual Property Owners Association. 

Several years later, Bliss worked on another project for a major automotive OEM, this time for a new hybrid vehicle. Under contract with a supplier, he was again challenged with finding intellectual property that could be protected for this vehicle. Bliss assembled a team of attorneys that spent four months preparing more than 50 patent applications on different inventions for the vehicle, obtaining inventor signatures and filing all of the patent applications on the same day.

“The supplier was surprised we could uncover that much intellectual property,” he says.

Past president of the Michigan Intellectual Patent Law Association, and past chair of the Intellectual Property Law Section of the State Bar of Michigan, Bliss is a widely published author of articles relating to IP law, a frequent speaker on IP issues, and has testified as an expert on patent law and patent office procedure at several trials.

Named among Michigan Super Lawyers, Bliss brings an engineering background to his IP work. A native of Owosso, and graduate of Owosso High School, he enjoyed working with his father on projects around the house and on cars. 

“I learned how to fix things both mechanically and electrically, and learned problem-solving skills that would help me with engineering, business, and law,” he says.

Enjoying math and science in school, Bliss planned to become a chemist; until someone pointed him towards chemical engineering. However, after two years of this at Michigan Technological University, he switched to mechanical engineering, graduating with high honors. He set his sights on a master of science degree in engineering, until a friend’s father, a patent attorney on the Board of Control of MTU, suggested a law degree would provide more job flexibility to practice law, engineering, or a combination of both. 

Bliss earned his J.D., cum laude, from Detroit College of Law (now Michigan State University College of Law), enjoying the challenge of working at an IP law firm in the Detroit area by day, and attending law classes at night.

He won his first case – against the law school. With enough credits to graduate in three years from a four-year program, but insufficient residency points, his application for early graduation was denied by an Academic committee. He successfully appealed the denial, filing an appeal brief to the full faculty, which reversed the committee’s decision.

For two decades, Bliss and Gerald E. McGlynn III, and their associates, served the global IP community from their firm, Bliss McGlynn PC, before the firm joined Howard & Howard in July 2013.

Bliss and Margaret, his wife of 26 years, have made their home in Troy since 1988. Their daughter, Bridget, and son, Matthew, both attend Central Michigan University. Copper the Beagle, a rescue dog, rounds out the family.

Bliss has served as a director on various boards of corporations, associations, and non-profits, including several homeowner association boards; and in past years volunteered for the American Cancer Society, the Charter Revision Committee for the City of Troy, the MTU Alumni Association, and MSU Law Alumni Association. 

In his leisure time, he enjoys skiing, golf, music, and the study of wine. A certified sommelier from the Court of Masters, he is also a certified specialist of wine and a certified specialist of spirits from the Society of Wine Educators. He is currently enrolled in a program to be a certified wine educator.

“I hope to have that completed within the year and be one of only 500 people in the world to have such a certification,” he says.

He has also completed the Advanced Wine and Spirits Program from the Wine & Spirits Educational Trust and is currently completing the Diploma Program from the Wine & Spirits Educational Trust as a candidate for the Master of Wine program.