Brantley Shumaker

Registered Patent Attorney
Middleton Reutlinger

Subject:  “Protecting your innovations: A Patent Law Primer”
Track Advanced Manufacturing


Brantley Shumaker is a registered patent attorney and a member of the intellectual property practice group at Middleton Reutlinger.   He focuses his practice primarily in the areas of patent prosecution and intellectual property litigation.

He has prosecuted patent applications in a variety of technology areas, including electrical, medical devices, mechanical, health and lifestyle products and business methods. I focus particularly on prosecution of patents in computer hardware and software, including lighting control, healthcare, computer networking, artificial intelligence, telecommunications, robotics, cloud computing, virtual computing, and security.  He has also litigated in the areas of patent, trademark, copyright, trade secrets and insurance.

Prior to law school, he worked as a programmer at Lexmark International and as a programmer and network/database administrator at a printing company in New Albany. He has served as an adjunct professor at the University of Oregon Law School from 2009 to 2011, where I taught licensing of intellectual property.

He graduated from the Chicago-Kent College of Law with a certificate in Intellectual Property in 2006.  He graduated from the University of Kentucky with a BS in Computer Science in 2002.   He grew up in Louisville and graduated from Ballard High School.


Most technical companies and manufacturing processes are launched based on an idea.  In many cases this idea involves a new and innovative use

of technology that achieves a commercial benefit.  Unfortunately, ideas are easy to copy.  While early entry into the market and focused execution offer some leg up on potential competition, they do not prevent others from riding your coattails by stealing your idea.  In comes patent law.

A patent is a bundle of exclusive rights awarded by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to protect an inventive process, machine, article of manufacture, or composition of matter. Not everything is patentable, and the line between patentable and unpatentable is not always clear. Computer software and business methods are patentable under certain circumstances. However, laws of nature (E=mc2), physical phenomena, and abstract ideas (method of hedging risks in commodities trading) are not. The line keeps moving, too – the Supreme Court has weighed in on the issue multiple times in recent years.

The patent application process typically takes a year or more and is expensive, so it’s worth examining whether the return (a patent) will be worth the investment.  For advanced manufacturing and software companies centered around a technological innovation, a patent is an invaluable, and in many cases essential, asset. A startup built around an idea is more marketable to potential buyers if the idea is protected by one or more patents.

This talk will discuss what a patent is, what it takes to get one, and whether it is worth the investment.