DeMatteis School of Engineering and Applied Science

A Patent For Success

During his first week at medical school, Sean Wilsusen realized being a doctor wasn’t his true passion.   He flew home, took the LSAT and, six months later, was accepted to law school – a bold decision that ultimately landed Wilsusen his dream job as a patent attorney.

Wilsusen shared his story at the Fred DeMatteis School of Engineering and Applied Science Executive Speaker Series in a lecture entitled, Patent Law and Engineering: Should You Consider a Career in Intellectual Property (IP) Law?

“My job combines business, legal and technology on a regular basis,” said Wilsusen, Esq. an associate at Carter, DeLuca & Farrell LLP.  “I absolutely love what I do.  I’m never bored, never stressed and it pays well.”

Although Wilsusen chose to attend law school, he told students that you only need a technical degree or a set number of credits in a science or technical related field to become a patent agent.

“In my experience, there is never a direct path to a career in patent law,” Wilsusen said.  “Most people intend to do something entirely different.  Other than the rare occasion where a parent is a patent attorney, most people generally get into this field by accident.”

Biomedical engineering major Joanne Peragine ’20 was one of the 40 engineering and computer science students who attended the lecture.

“It was interesting to hear that the majority of people who go into patent law actually start out with completely different backgrounds,” Peragine said.  “It shows that you don’t always know where you will end up in life. You may have one set vision in mind, but in the end that straight path to success doesn’t always exist; it comes with twists and turns you may not always expect.”

Wilsusen also discussed the patent application process from filing documentation, to the negotiating process with patent examiners and fees. 

“The process can take years to complete and you’re almost always rejected the first time,” Wilsusen told students.  “On any given day, I may be managing 500-700 patents at different stages in the filing process simultaneously.”

The Executive Speaker Series, organized by Philip Coniglio, director of the DeMatteis Co-op Program, offers engineering and computer science students the opportunity to gain valuable career advice from industry professionals.

“The goal of the Executive Speaker Series is to give our students a professional perspective, from the point of view of accomplished technology executives,” Coniglio said.  “We hope that the series of lectures will educate students about the skills needed to be successful in the work force and that they will gain more in-depth knowledge about the type of work they can expect to be doing once they graduate from Hofstra.”

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