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Jeffrey R. Stone

Breaking the Ice: IP attorney secures milestone patent for heart device

Name: Jeffrey R. Stone

Title: Partner, Barnes & Thornburg, Minneapolis office

Education: B.S., biological and physical sciences, University of North Dakota; M.P.H., University of Minnesota; J.D., William Mitchell College of Law

Jeffrey R. Stone, a partner and IP attorney in Barnes Thornburg’s Minneapolis office, this month obtained the 11 millionth U.S. patent on behalf of 4C Medical Technologies, a medical device company in Maple Grove.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granted the patent on May 11 to co-inventors Saravana Kumar and Jason Diedering. The patent covers 4C Medical’s AltaValve, a prosthetic heart valve now in clinical studies for treating mitral regurgitation.

“They’re very innovative,” Stone said. “It will be exciting to see what happens with this moving forward.”

Stone worked in the medical device industry for a dozen years before practicing law. He’s a named inventor on 12 patents and patent applications, from his time in the industry and his legal practice, where his focus includes strategic patent counseling.

“It’s important to be highly aware of the client’s competitive landscape, where holes potentially are and where improvements might come,” Stone said. “That feeds into this inventive approach.”

Q: What’s the best way to start a conversation with you?

A: Ask me anything about kids — kids’ activities, sports at school. Those topics help me forget that I’m an introvert. Once that threshold is crossed them, then I’m good.

Q: Why did you go to law school?

A: I just felt like I could have a bigger impact in that nexus between technology and innovation and the legal world having an understanding of industry and the medical device industry in particular and then knowing how engineers think and all of that. I just felt like I could probably have good leverage to help make a difference, a bigger difference in that in that world.

Q: What books are you reading?

A: I just finished for the third time “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea” by Jules Verne. I’m almost done with “Darwin’s Doubt,” by Stephen Meyer. I’ve got his next book, “Return of the God Hypothesis.” He has three scientific discoveries that he argues, I understand, have strong theistic implications.

Q: What’s your pet peeve?

A: A lack of commitment to the pursuit of excellence. I recognize that in myself a little bit less and less maybe over time because I have learned to overcome it or discipline myself to continually pursue excellence. It’s just not my favorite thing to encounter in myself or others.

Q: Best part of your work?

A: I love clients, the work that they bring, the subject matter and helping them achieve their strategic business goals. But ultimately just adding value anyway I can.

Q: Least favorite?

A:  Administrative stuff.

Q: Favorite activity away from work?

A: I get immersed in kids’ activities. Hockey, year-round, basically. Baseball, the summer. I’m coaching football this summer. It’s a lot but fun.

Q: Where would you take someone visiting your hometown?

A: We live over in Minnetonka. I’d take them out on Lake Minnetonka. We like to cruise through lake, look at the gigantic homes and stop maybe at Maynards and have some fries or something.

Q: Legal figure you most admire?

A: When I first started as a lawyer, I went to what used to be Briggs and Morgan and began working in intellectual property litigation. The people that were there — David Forsberg was the leader, he’s retired now; Karna Berg, (retired); Kurt Niederlueke, who’s at Fredrikson Byron; and Lori Marco, now at Hormel, senior vice president of external affairs and general counsel — created a culture where everybody liked each other, it was fun to be there and I looked forward to going to work there every day. They all strove for on a continuous sort of daily basis the highest legal standard of excellence. I was really lucky to have begun working with them.

Q: Misconception that others have about your work as an attorney?

A: That a patent attorney just drafts and prosecutes applications. That’s part of it but there’s so much more to it.


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