Monday Profile: Mikhail Murshak

Mikhail Murshak is a patent lawyer at Gifford Krass, an IP boutique with offices in Troy and Ann Arbor. He received a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from Michigan State University in 2000, and his J.D. from the University of Connecticut School of Law in 2003, which he attended as an Oliver Ellsworth Scholar.

He is experienced in all aspects of patent preparation, prosecution and litigation covering a variety of technical fields and particularly experienced with start-up businesses. He also provides pro bono IP counseling to several Inventors Networks, assisted in launching the Michigan Inventors Coalition, and was a former board member of the Entrepreneur Institute of Mid-Michigan. He is an adjunct professor at Thomas M. Cooley Law School.

Mikhail's family immigrated to the United States from Estonia (formerly USSR) at the age of two. His mother, father, brother, and sister all hold degrees in chemical engineering. He was the first in his family to pursue a legal career and now has a brother and brother-in-law practicing law in Michigan.

By Jo Mathis

Legal News

What is your idea of perfect happiness? Balance in health, personal, emotional, and professional life.

What is your greatest fear? Living with regret.

Which living person do you most admire? My mom and dad, and ultra-competitors like Coach Tom Izzo.

What is the trait you hate most in yourself? Not athletic enough!

What is the trait you hate most in others? Being superficial or apathetic towards others.

If you suddenly had an extra room in your house, what would you do with it? Gym or movie theater.

What was your most memorable meal? I took my sister, her daughter, and my kids to Graham Elliot in Chicago. We did the 11-course tasting menu and it felt more like an art presentation of food rather than a meal. It was amazing and most importantly, I was able to share it with my kids.

If you could take back one thing you did... I would have worked first before going law school. I went straight through and felt unprepared compared to my fellow classmates who had taken some time in between to grow up and learn a little bit more about the corporate world and normal adult expectations.

Is it difficult to work in both the Ann Arbor and Troy offices? It is difficult to pack up your work and computer at the end of the day and shuffle files from one location to the other. At the end of the day, my brain is dead and I just want to be done, but instead I have to focus and organize to figure out what is staying and what is coming with me. So logistically, it's tough. But I enjoy seeing people in both offices.

What is your most treasured material possession? My Bayshore Marathon finisher medal. Crossing that finish line was maybe the most triumphant experience in my life. I always hated running and to achieve a marathon in my lifetime seemed completely impossible.

If you could do one thing professionally... I would love to see one of my individual inventor clients achieve their financial dreams and a million dollar product.

What are your favorite websites? Besides USPTO.gov? ESPN.com. Google News - Business. Patently-O (a patent law blog).

Where have you been that you will never return--if you can help it? Juarez, Mexico. It was bad when I was there at 18, and I think it's much worse now.

What was your most embarrassing moment? I tripped on my way up to the podium at my own Bar Mitzvah.

Your proudest moment(s) as a lawyer? Every time I found out I passed the bar exam! That includes Connecticut, New York, Michigan, and the patent bar. When practicing, however, I was most proud when I first convinced a patent examiner to allow a case during a telephone interview. I felt like I had finally arrived in the profession.

It's 7 a.m. Monday. How are you feeling? Slow to get up while my dog Baxter is bouncing around the room waiting for breakfast.

What do you consider the most overrated virtue? It seems in the professional world that arriving early is highly valued and more respected than staying late. I never understood that.

When and where were you happiest? College was amazing. It's one of the only times in your adult life where your freedom seems endless and your future appears so bright. Plus there's a built-in social culture that maximizes fun and interaction. Now, being in my 30's is also great having some sense of wisdom that the more I know the more I realize I know nothing. Plus the mistakes of your 20's are well behind you!

What's your greatest achievement? Completing two marathons, the most recent only six months after having an ankle surgery.

What would be your ideal job? A math teacher and a coach in Hawaii or Southern California where the sun shines all the time!

What one thing do you wish people knew about your work? That patents do not arrive with a check for a million dollars. And that the cost of commercialization of a product far exceeds the cost of securing your rights.

Favorite joke: Knock Knock. (Who's there?) Interrupting Cow. (Interrupting cow wh..) Moo, Moo, Moo, Moo!

What is something most people don't know about you? I get teary-eyed every time I watch The Biggest Loser.

If you could have dinner with three people, living or dead, who would they be? My grandmother Sophie, Jefferson, and Lincoln.

Who is your favorite character of fiction? Mickey Mouse (represents my youth); Willie Lomax, the lovable loser (I loved "Death of Salesman") and Ron Burgundy.

Favorite words: Objection! "You can't handle the truth!"

What's one thing you can do now that you couldn't do 20 years ago? Run long distance.

What is your motto? Be honest.

Where would you like to be when you're 90? Surrounded by grandkids.

Published: Mon, Mar 25, 2013

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