Attorney thrives on providing business value to his clients

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By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

Attorney Vince Ilagan works among the front lines of surgical technology, handling patent cases that include surgical instruments and surgical robotics. 

“It’s an honor to work closely with talented team members to clearly identify inventions that improve the quality of patient care,” says Ilagan, an attorney and counselor with Howard & Howard Attorneys PLLC in Royal Oak. “I enjoy working alongside brilliant individuals and applying my knowledge of mechanical engineering and the relevant patent law.”

He also has handled a broad range of automotive technologies, including turbochargers, valve-trains, engine cylinder liners, crankshafts, transmissions, exhaust gas recirculation systems, safety restraint systems, constant velocity joints, steering and suspension systems, headlamp assemblies, vehicle entertainment systems, and various vehicle body structures. 

“The advancements in vehicle safety technologies during my lifetime have been staggering, and it’s been exciting to learn the newest ones being developed today and help manufacturers bring these technologies to the public,” he says.

Ilagan also has extensive technical experience in aerospace and power generation technologies, including gas turbine engines, combined cycle power plants, electrically conductive fluid couplings, and aircraft hydraulic air bleed valve systems.

Ilagan inherited his love of engineering from his father, a mechanical engineer at Ford Motor Co., who enjoyed maintaining and repairing items on the home front.

The apple didn’t fall far from the tree. Sharing that same passion, Ilagan went on to earn an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Michigan.

As an undergraduate intern at Manufacturers Products Company, a stamping plant, he worked with senior engineers to develop progressive tool die designs to optimize utilization of raw material.

After graduating from U-M, he worked in the New Products Release Division of Motorola in Boynton Beach, Fla.

“While quality control testing was thorough and repetitive, I respected the comprehensive nature of Motorola’s failure analysis, which was necessary to provide world class products,” he says.

He earned his J.D. from John Marshall Law School in Chicago, where an internship provided an early start to handling IP matters specifically directed to the mechanical arts.

Ilagan, who joined Howard & Howard in 2015, draws from diverse and robust legal experience he has accumulated over his career. Since his early start as intern in 1998, Ilagan has served as onsite counsel at the headquarters of a major car manufacturer and as a director for a global IP research provider, Landon IP.

Ilagan’s practice has been focused on value-driven IP law, with an emphasis on patent preparation, prosecution, and clearance work primarily in the mechanical arts.

“I’ve been grateful to work with and learn from accomplished, highly respected patent attorneys in our community,” he says. “Being trained by and working alongside such talent provided an invaluable understanding of patent practice, a strong network of esteemed colleagues, and an appreciation of work product that provides meaningful business value to clients.”

He explains that to obtain patent protection, a holistic approach requires learning the client’s existing product and future generations, as well as competitors’ existing products and potential design-arounds.

“Developing a legal strategy based on these considerations can be a rewarding balancing act that provides maximum value to our clients’ businesses,” he says.

Named among Michigan Super Lawyers “Rising Stars” in 2014 and 2015, Ilagan enjoys leveraging close relationships with multinational clients and the legal community to impact domestic and foreign markets in favor of clients. 

“We start by examining our clients’ commercial endeavors so we may develop the best strategy to advance them,” he says. “We execute those strategies locally, and collaborate with legal counsel in jurisdictions around the world. 

“While I have experience providing legal counsel onsite at a major car manufacturer, the field of IP law is so versatile it allows me to work just as closely with clients, engineers, and legal experts overseas.” 

As a speaker on patent law at technical conferences for the Mid-Michigan Innovation Center, Ilagan also serves as program chair for the Michigan Chapter of the Licensing Executives Society (LES). 

“I’m excited to be an active officer of this growing chapter, and I’m grateful for the prominent business leaders who volunteer their valuable time to share their expertise with our community,” he says.

The Cleveland native, who moved to Farmington Hills early in life, currently makes his home in Novi. He and his 14-year-old daughter Olivia volunteer for Gleaners and Forgotten Harvest, and count kayaking, camping, and playing tennis among their interests, as well as travel.

“We hope to take an Alaskan cruise in the next couple of years,” he says. “Olivia started high school this fall. She is happily the focus of all I do.”

The passion for engineering has reached the third generation.

“While my father passed away 6 years ago, I carry his lessons with me and I still use some of his tools today as I pass on his lessons to my daughter during our own home projects,” Ilagan says.

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