Patent attorney draws on European background and experience

By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

Patent attorney Gerlinde (Linda) Nattler calls her legal work the continuation of “a meandering career.”

“Unlike other intellectual property attorneys, I didn’t start off in R&D,” she explains.

“I’ve worked in patent prosecution for my entire career. I just didn’t get to attend law school earlier because of logistical issues—including living overseas until my mid-thirties and then living too far away from any accredited law school.”

A shareholder in the Ann Arbor office of Brinks Gilson & Lione, one of the largest intellectual property law firms in the U.S., Nattler has been named a 2019 Michigan Rising Star by Michigan Super Lawyers, in the practice area of intellectual property.

Now in her 50s, Nattler finds herself listed among considerably younger up-and-coming lawyers; but the award also goes to attorneys with less than a decade of practice.

Nattler launched her stellar career with a university diploma in physics (equivalent to a U.S. master’s degree) from Universität Bayreuth in her native Germany.

She then worked as a patent engineer for a global automotive supplier in both Germany and the U.S. Admitted to practice before the European Patent Office, she is one of very few U.S. attorneys qualified before both the European Patent Office and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. 

Eighteen years later, she attended Cooley Law School on weekends and evenings on a full-tuition honors scholarship, graduating magna cum laude within three years.
“I needed to be able to be a sole parent and work full-time, and that was only possible when the Cooley campus in Auburn Hills was accredited,” she says. “I was lucky to catch the opportunity.”

Despite English being her second language, she served as Managing Associate Editor and Senior Associate Editor of the Law Review and in 2009 received the John D. Voelker Award for making the most significant contribution to the publication.

After joining Brinks in 2010 as an associate attorney, she became a shareholder two years ago.

Nattler focuses her practice on patent prosecution, opinion work, and IP portfolio management, with a particular emphasis on the areas of mechanics, electronics, hydraulics and computerized processes. 

She also chairs the firm’s Germany task force and the Green Technology practice group, is an active member of various other practice groups, and trains colleagues in European patent prosecution and in drafting patent applications for filing in the European Patent Office.

Nattler is a frequent speaker on patent protection from a global perspective; topics include Understanding patent applications and methods for best approaches in Europe and the U.S.; Diving into the (patent) pool & specification and claim drafting to avoid indefiniteness; Drafting patent applications that comply with European disclosure requirements; The European Unitary Patent & Unified Patent Court; and Patent agent-client privilege before the USPTO and in the courts.

A guest lecturer at Wayne Law School, she also is a contributing author to the 2017 Centennial edition of the Brinks Gilson & Lione IP primer, “The Basic Principles of Intellectual Property Law.”

Named to Michigan Lawyers Weekly “Women in the Law Class of 2018,” Nattler perceives every patent grant like the graduation of one of her children—not the end, but rather the start of a patent’s trajectory that can span as much as two decades from the filing date. 

“It’s not enough to obtain patentable claims—it’s important to carve out a meaningful scope that is valid, enforceable and takes into account current and future developments in technology,” she says.

A native of Dorsten, Germany, with dual citizenship in the U.S. and Germany, Nattler now makes her home in Ann Arbor, where in her leisure time she enjoys sewing, making repairs around her home, computer and car, feeding and watching animals in her backyard, and spending time with her daughter, who is in medical school.

She also is involved in German cultural and business activities, including the German American Chamber of Commerce – Michigan chapter.

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