IP & Technology Team Joins Sheppard Mullin Continuing IP Practice Group Expansion

Tuesday, June 16, 2015 - 13:39

Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP has added three partners to the firm's growing Intellectual Property practice group: James G. Gatto, D. Benjamin Esplin and Bradford C. Blaise. Gatto and Blaise join Sheppard Mullin’s Washington D.C. office and Esplin joins the firm’s Del Mar office. 

"As extremely well-regarded IP specialists, they are sought out coast-to-coast by technology and game companies for patent portfolio strategy and business model advice.  We are delighted to welcome Jim, Ben and Brad to the firm.  They are first-rate attorneys that significantly add depth and breadth to our existing IP and technology capabilities, especially in the games, social media, internet, open source, mHealth and FinTech industries," said Guy Halgren, chairman of Sheppard Mullin.

Gatto leverages his unique combination of over 30 years of IP experience, business insights and attention to technology trends to help companies develop IP and other legal strategies that are aligned with their business objectives. His practice focuses on all aspects of intellectual property, internet and technology law, including patent, trademark, copyright, trade secret and open source. Gatto advises clients of all sizes (start-ups to Fortune 100 companies) on key legal and business issues relating to the use of social media, video games, mobile and social games, eSports, fantasy sports and online gambling (gamblification), virtual goods and currencies (including bitcoin), social networks, virtual worlds, augmented reality, virtual reality, cybersecurity, open source, user-generated content, mHealth and FinTech Apps, location-based services and gamification.

Gatto has been in the intellectual property field since 1984, when he started as a patent examiner while attending Georgetown University Law School at night. His practice encompasses a full range of IP and technology issues, including: patent, trademark, copyright, open source and trade secret litigation; counseling and technology transactions; developing and implementing IP strategies to protect and to monetize IP assets; creating and implementing IP programs; conducting IP audits; conducting complex patent prosecution, including patent appeals, interferences, Inter Partes Review (IPRs), reissues and reexaminations; handling patent enforcement issues, including licensing and litigation; conducting IP due diligence in and negotiating IP aspects of mergers, acquisitions and financings; rendering opinions concerning the infringement, validity and enforceability of patents; handling trademark prosecution, domain name, copyright and trade secret matters; handling IP aspects of employment issues; handling IP aspects of government contracts; negotiating and drafting technology agreements; and more.

Esplin's practice covers a broad range of intellectual property matters including the development and monetization of intellectual property. He has experience in developing patent filing strategies, patent preparation and prosecution, patent portfolio sales and licensing, transactional due diligence, and advising clients with respect to the validity, infringement and potential avoidance of third party patent rights.  Esplin’s experience with patent prosecution extends to successfully representing clients in post-grant proceedings such as reissue, reexamination (ex parte and inter partes), and patent interference. He also has experience with other intellectual property and legal matters pertaining to video games and social media.

Esplin’s areas of technical focus include social media, video games, social networks, virtual worlds, augmented reality, media, computer software, computer graphics processing, mechanical devices, control systems, network infrastructure, security and maintenance, sound recording/reproduction, wireless communication and business methods. He previously served as a patent examiner at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, where he examined patent applications pertaining to optical systems including film photography cameras, photolithographic apparatuses, projectors, photocopiers and printers.

Blaise’s practice focuses on patent prosecution and client counseling in a variety of fields including computer software, business methods, e-commerce, financial services, video games, virtual worlds, social media, social networks, and mHealth and medical devices, among others. In addition to preparing and prosecuting patent applications, he has significant experience with advanced prosecution matters including reissue applications and ex parte and inter partes reexamination proceedings, and has successfully argued before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences.

Blaise's client counseling experience includes developing and implementing IP strategies to protect and to monetize IP assets; creating and implementing IP programs; conducting IP audits; conducting complex patent prosecution, including patent appeals, interferences, Inter Partes Review (IPRs), reissues and reexaminations, as well as advising clients on issues concerning patent infringement and validity, and the avoidance of third party patent rights.  He has extensive experience with IP audits, patent sales, and transactional due diligence, and has also assisted in patent infringement litigation strategy.

Blaise is a former patent examiner with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, where he examined patent applications pertaining to surgical endoscopes and electro-surgical instruments. Prior to attending law school, he worked at the Assistive Technology Research Center (ATRC) at the National Rehabilitation Hospital, on a grant from the Department of Defense to examine the feasibility of transferring existing military technology to the field of rehabilitation and assistive technology to improve the lives of individuals with disabilities.

Sheppard Mullin has 60 attorneys based in its Washington D.C. and 110 attorneys in its Intellectual Property practice group firmwide. The arrival of Gatto, Esplin and Blaise at Sheppard Mullin continues the expansion of the firm’s Chambers-ranked Intellectual Property practice group and follows the addition last month of IP partner William Lambert, who joined the firm in Palo Alto.