Intellectual Property firm founder has wide-ranging interests, knowledge


James Mitchell by shelves of vintage books in his new office.


by Cynthia Price
Legal News

A conversation with James A. Mitchell, who started Mitchell Intellectual Property Law in early 2012, might begin with the Hatch-Waxman Act on pharmaceuticals and end up talking about the 1755 map of Isle Royale.

Along the way, facts and anecdotes about science, engineering, the arts, philosophy, and especially history make their entrance in head-spinning succession.

Mitchell might also show you the astronomy chart his young grandson (one of four grandchildren) drew on the office white board, which uses numbers to demonstrate that life on other planets is a possibility and which Mitchell does not have the heart to erase.

He has written about a variety of subjects for the Stereoscope, the publication of the Historical Society for the U.S.Court for the Western District of Michigan, and has even produced a timeline of events concerning the discovery of DNA, based on Nobel-prize-winning double-helix discoverer James Watson’s DNA, The Secret of Life. (A Watson-autographed copy of  that book is in Mitchell’s book collection.)

Mitchell approaches his IP practice with similar erudition and, moreover, love of sharing.

The article below shares some of his knowledge about changes to patent law which took effect last weekend.Mitchell received his law degree from University of Michigan Law School after obtaining a chemistry degree at Michigan Technological   University, of which he is a strong supporter.

Mitchell’s patent law and IP career spans decades.

He specializes in Hatch-Waxman pharmaceutical cases. He describes it as “a law that’s designed to help incentivize the companies who do the basic research and still make it possible to get generics on the marketplace in a reasonable time. So-called pioneer or innovator companies have to do clinical trials to confirm that a drug is safe and effective, but it allows a generic company to rely on those clinical trials after a waiting period of 3 or 5 or 7 years so that the innovator company can reap the profits initially.”

Mitchell has done work for both the innovator companies and for the generic companies, including successful litigation.

This new firm has experience in patents, trademarks and copyrights; legal opinions on validity and infringement issues; major licensing transactions; IP Taxation; IP valuation; and anti-trust and anti-dumping issues, among others.

Attorney Jeffrey Johnson has joined Mitchell at the boutique law firm. Johnson has both an Electrical Engineering degree and an MBA from the University of Michigan, and graduated summa cum laude from Arizona State University Law School. He has written and litigated to protect dozens of patents in a variety of fields, concentrating in electrical and computer.

Intern Elliot Gruszka, who graduated from Cooley Law School in December after garnering numerous awards and honors, is still awaiting the results of his bar exam. He has a degree in physics and has, for example, co-designed  and built a high-energy particle detector. Another intern, Christian Damon, will not graduate from Michigan State University Law School until May 2014, but has a dual undergraduate major in chemistry and German.

James Mitchell’s restless intellectual curiosity and zest for life has led him to serve the community on a number of projects. He is on the board of TrueSuccess, started in 2006 by Bill Heneveld, who Mitchell says is “a friend and son of my mentor,” Lloyd Heneveld. The elder Heneveld was the second partner to join the IP firm Price, Heneveld, Cooper, DeWitt and Litton, where Mitchell got his start. TrueSuccess offers education on role models who have overcome diversity to young students.

Mitchell also serves on the board of Mel Trotter Ministries. He adds, “And I used to coach basketball until my children got to about the eighth grade and it was made clear to me that I was hindering the NBA careers of some of the kids.”

With a laugh he moves on to showing off his vintage chemistry balance, his collected books on science and other topics, and a number of antique maps, sharing bits of information along the way.