Charged up: Engineer turned attorney enjoys assisting inventors


By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

Patent attorney Jeanette Berberich counsels clients in numerous industries as they bring their key innovations to wider markets—and enjoys the perspective and enthusiasm of these inventors.

“I’m a strong believer that Detroit has and always will have some of the best innovators in the country,” she says.“A number of inventors are very excited about the patent process and about their invention, and they enjoy the initial discussions describing their invention and all its possible embodiments. It’s refreshing to see when inventors are so passionate about their work.”

A patent attorney at Harness, Dickey, & Pierce PLC in Troy, Berberich focuses on patenting new technologies in the electrical and optical fields—bringing to bear her previous experience as an electrical engineer. She does a lot of work on software patents, and gained a large portion of her computer experience developing software at the University of Utah.

Berberich earned her undergrad degree in electrical and electronics engineering from the University of Michigan.

“My mom always said I should be an engineer because I’ve always been able to repackage electronics to actually fit in the box they came in,” she says with a smile.

After undergrad, she worked as a research assistant in a neurology lab at the University of Utah in the Greater Salt Lake City area, helping to develop programs to analyze the cortical ribbon of the brain.

“We would access MRIs in a database and compute the size of the different structures using fractal dimension to identify an atrophy pattern that correlated with age, and use this to compare brains of healthy individuals to brains of individuals afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease,” she says.

While Berberich—who also programmed embedded systems directed to laser technology and worked with a municipality to use GPS systems to assist civil engineering projects—always intended to continue her schooling, she was unsure of the next step.

“I took kind of a leap of faith and just went to law school and absolutely loved it,” she says. “I enjoyed every single class I took my 1L year at Wayne Law, and I was extremely interested in learning about ‘peculiar’ areas of the law. I quickly learned that it was exactly where I should be and the career path I wanted.”

She particularly appreciated Wayne Law’s connections in the community, offering students access to good resources and translating that into community engagement and organization.

Berberich was involved in the Wayne Law Journal of Law in Society, which works closely with the Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights; and in the school’s patent procurement law clinic, where she was first exposed to patent prosecution. She worked with individual inventors and gave them an overview of patent law procedure and patents related to the area of their invention.

“I was initially interested in patent law because patent attorneys are always working on something new and also working directly with inventors, which appealed to me,” she says. “It was a great experience working with and educating individual inventors.”

During law school, she clerked at the Cincinnati Insurance Companies in Troy, where she filed motions in tri-county area courthouses; drafted motions, appeals, complaints; researched case law; responded to interrogatories and pleadings; summarized medical records; attended and summarized depositions, and more.

As part of Berberich’s duties, she often helped with trial prep by creating exhibits, compiling jury instructions, and helping during trial by taking notes and organizing information for the lead attorney. She also assisted with inspections of equipment for product liability cases, which involved scheduling inspections with an expert, attending the inspection, and going over the expert report with the CIC expert.

“I really liked the litigation experience I got at CIC,” she says. “I was able to be involved in all aspects of litigation, from start to finish. Also, since it was an insurance company there were a variety of cases I could be involved in, including premises liability, auto accidents, products liability, dog bite, and dental malpractice.”

The Troy native now makes her home in Farmington Hills, where she and her partner bought a house in March. In her leisure time, she enjoys hiking, backpacking, snowboarding, anything
outdoors, projects around the house, cooking and travel—both international as well as impromptu weekend getaways.