Written by The Business Journal Staff
What I do: Patent, trademark, copyright, trade secret and Internet law
Education: B.S., electrical engineering from CSU, Fresno; Juris Doctorate from San Joaquin College of Law
Family: Married to Amy for 11 years with three children
Tell us a little about your career to your current position, Marcus.
Law is actually my second career. After graduating from Fresno State with an electrical engineering degree, I worked at a wireless technology R&D laboratory in San Diego. Several years later I returned to Fresno and worked at a local electronics company before enrolling in law school at San Joaquin College of Law. I interned at a patent prosecution firm during law school, and after passing both the California and U.S. Patent and Trademark Office bar exams, worked as a patent attorney at one of Fresno’s oldest business law firms. I have been at Dowling Aaron since 2014, where my practice is focused on patent, trademark, copyright and internet law.
What brought you to practicing law, Marcus?
My first exposure to intellectual property law occurred when I was working in San Diego. At the time I was doing some interesting research on cellular phone technologies, and as a result of that research, the company filed a couple of patent applications on my inventions. I had the opportunity to work with both in-house and outside patent attorneys and found the process — starting with conception of an idea and ending with issuance of patents — to be very intriguing.
What sorts of clients do you serve in your intellectual property practice?
My client base is very diversified. As one of the few registered patent attorneys in the Central Valley I have the opportunity to work with individual inventors, small and medium size businesses and international companies. I love working with individual and corporate entrepreneurs; their zeal is infectious. The bulk of my time is split between registering my client’s trademarks and procuring patents on their inventions, both domestically and internationally, and litigating patent and trademark disputes.
What should the average business owner know about intellectual property law, Marcus?
Every successful business has valuable intellectual property rights which should be protected, whether those rights are in the form of distinctive branding (trademarks), novel products or processes (patents), creative works and software (copyrights) or confidential business processes (trade secrets). Businesses should proactively protect these rights early and not wait to contact an attorney until problems first arise. There are so many timing considerations in protecting intellectual property rights and businesses may end up losing the ability to protect their rights if they wait too long to seek counsel.
What is your outlook for the future of the Valley’s tech industry, Marcus?
This area is unmistakably centered around agriculture. I think that the Central Valley is poised to experience explosive growth in ag-based technology. There are already some very innovative local companies doing cutting edge work, including in irrigation technology, crop harvesting and processing equipment and agriculture specific software solutions. Right now a strong technology culture is taking hold in the Central Valley, and I believe within the next decade the Central Valley will be recognized as a center for innovation alongside the Bay Area.
What was the best advice you ever received, Marcus?
“Don’t do anything unless you are going to take the time to do it right; otherwise you are just wasting your time and everyone else’s.” – (source unknown, but sounds like something my dad would say).
What was your very first job and what did you learn from it?
In high school I worked at a small AM talk radio station. You can really learn responsibility by having a solo shift that starts at 5 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday — if you are late, it’s nothing but dead air. There was no room for error in that job.
What are your roots in the Valley, Marcus?
I am a Central Valley native, as are my parents and were my grandparents. My dad’s family grew table grapes from Madera to Delano and my mom’s family had a small dairy and grew almonds in Easton. I have a very large extended family, nearly all of whom live and work in the Fresno area.
What do you like to do in your spare time, Marcus?
My wife and I live on a small “hobby farm” with our three young children so the concept of “spare” time is foreign to me. When I am not helping clients navigate intellectual property law, I’m either doing work around the property or our family is at one of the great weekend events in the Central Valley.