Creative spark: Patent attorney draws on her engineering background

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By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

Patent attorney Jennifer Turchyn enjoys working directly with inventors who are excited about their ideas. “It’s my favorite part of the job,” she says. “It's rewarding to work together to define and protect their inventions.”

An attorney with Harness Dickey in Troy, Turchyn also loves being immersed in new technologies on a daily basis. “Not many people get sneak peeks at up-and-coming technology while learning about it firsthand from the people behind the ideas,” she says.

Turchyn joined Harness Dickey in 2016 after previously working there as a summer associate and as a law clerk during law school. Her current practice includes preparing and prosecuting patent applications in the mechanical, electromechanical, and chemical arts, as well as preparing patentability opinions for diverse clients. She also has experience in litigation, including legal research, drafting briefs, discovery, and trial preparation and support.

Turchyn’s career trajectory started with dual cum laude degrees in mechanical and chemical engineering from the University of Michigan.

“I always loved science and how it can be used to both explain and improve the world around us,” she says. “I sought dual engineering degrees because I wanted my ‘tool box’ to be as extensive as possible.”

Her first exposure to intellectual property law was during her last semester as an undergraduate, when her senior design team collaborated with doctors at the University of Michigan hospital to develop a reconfigurable mattress to reduce the occurrence of pressure ulcers. The team also worked with the Tech Transfer office to file an invention disclosure, sparking Turchyn’s initial in interest intellectual property protection.

After graduation, Turchyn worked in production at a start-up plant for Dow’s solar shingle business. “I was excited to contribute to a product that would both help the environment and save people money,” she says. “It was also fascinating to experience the challenges and excitement of a new business.”

Her experience with the start-up business at Dow — particularly in working with the Research and Development team — also provided meaningful firsthand exposure to watching new ideas unfold and an appreciation for the need for those ideas to be protected.

Turchyn went on to earn her J.D. from Michigan Law, and has fond memories of her law school experience. “My classmates and professors had a wide variety of experiences, backgrounds, and plans for the future,” she says.

She served as vice president of the Intellectual Property Students Association, senior judge for 1L legal practice, and as executive production editor for Michigan Law Review, which she embraced as an opportunity to hone her writing skills and develop a habit of precision.

Although she moved away from a career in manufacturing, Turchyn never lost her passion for science and innovation.

“I loved hitting ‘pause’ for three years to do something completely different, but always planned to make my way back to a career that would allow me to draw on my engineering knowledge,” she says.

A native of Rochester Hills in Oakland County, Turchyn and her husband Matt make their home in Royal Oak with their pet parrots, including Turchyn’s childhood pet, a 22-year-old cockatoo named Lucky.

“We’re fortunate to have lots of family nearby, including our parents and my three brothers and their families,” she says.

Her leisure activities include cooking, reading, barre-style exercise classes, and visiting microbreweries all over the state. She also loves traveling: recent adventures include a long weekend in Iceland last winter and a summer trip to the Canadian Rockies with her husband and parents.

As an undergrad, where she earned a minor in music, Turchyn played mellophone in the Michigan Marching Band and Hockey Band.

“Being part of the two bands helped me integrate into the U of M community and sparked a lifelong passion for my alma mater,” she says.

“From a practical standpoint, the bands helped me develop good time management skills, provided a much-needed break from engineering studies, and introduced me to some of my best friends as well as my husband. I still love music, although I do more listening than playing these days.”


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