Lawyer blends engineering expertise with legal know-how

By Sheila Pursglove

Legal News

Inventions fascinated Brett Krueger from a young age, when he built robots and "Rube Goldberg" machines from various car parts.

Now, as a partner with Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn in Bloomfield Hills, Krueger - who spent six years working as an engineer before entering law - focuses his practice on patent prosecution and opinions in mechanical engineering; robotics and autonomous mobile robots ranging from home robots to military robots; automation; optical and medical devices; software for autonomous robots, machine automation, Internet applications, mobile devices, and cloud computing; and more.

Krueger, who previously spent five years in the Boston office of the intellectual property firm of Fish & Richardson, advises clients ranging from Fortune 100 companies to start-ups and independent inventors, managing client patent portfolios in the United States and worldwide.

"I enjoy seeing new ideas every day and the continual learning of new technologies," he says.

A member of the American Intellectual Property Law Association, Michigan Intellectual Property Law Association, and Boston Patent Law Association, he frequently provides intellectual property seminars and presentations to educate clients.

With a father who enjoys restoring old cars, Krueger was into tinkering and building from an early age in his native Illinois.

"I grew up helping my dad take apart and rebuild cars. When I was small I would run tools back and forth to my dad from the tool chest and sand various parts, and as I got older, I would help rebuild brakes and various engine components," he says. "By the time I reached college, I had a very good understanding of cars and mechanical components, so mechanical engineering was a logical choice for me."

Krueger, who spent some college time as an exchange student in England and France, earned a bachelor's degree, with high honors, in mechanical engineering with a bioengineering option from the University of Illinois. He received a master's degree from Stanford University with a focus on robotics and automation--after which he decided to stay in Silicon Valley and work as an engineer in their start-up culture.

He gained a diverse set of skills ranging from machine automation to particle accelerators at companies, including IBM, Applied Materials and Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, where he received an award for his inventive contributions to its main injector particle accelerator. He also worked as a software engineer at Incyte Genomics providing software solutions for machine automation; and as a senior software engineer at Netflix providing information management systems and Internet applications.

While working in Silicon Valley, he and his twin brother decided to start their own company, Krueger Technologies, providing high-speed gantries and linear stages.

"When the previous recession occurred, we decided to close our shop before losing much money," he says.

Before attending law school, the twins both passed the patent bar and became patent agents.

"Rather than using a study course, we created our own. After passing the patent bar, we started the Patent Bar Review Institute LLC, which offered a free online study course for passing the patent bar," says Krueger who served from 2003-05 as founder and president. "We later partnered with a law school and then sold the business to the law school."

Krueger found a way to perfectly blend his technical experience with an interest in patent law. After six years of hands-on engineering experience, he headed to the University of New Hampshire School of Law (formerly the Franklin Pierce Law Center), to earn his J.D., with the sole intent of becoming a patent attorney like his uncle, James Krueger.

"I gained a lot of insight and advice from him on the world of writing patents for inventions - and I always liked the idea of working with new technologies."

In law school, he served as editor of the Germeshausen Center Newsletter; and authored articles including "A Patent Portfolio Strategy for Entrepreneurs" and "Pulling Trolls Out from Under the Bridge: Proposed Patent Reforms." While in law school, he was named inventor on a patent for a trans-luminal surgical device.

Krueger and his wife Katie--who are expecting their third child, a sibling for Sarah and Julia--make their home in Rochester Hills. In his leisure time, Krueger enjoys golf and hiking.

Published: Mon, May 20, 2013

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