MSL Alumni Profile: Kyle M. Pikula (MSL ’19) Patent Engineer: Life Sciences and Mechanical Engineering, Cardinal Intellectual Property

My work at Cardinal IP focuses on the prior art searching stage of the patent prosecution process; I analyze potential claims of clients’ inventions and explore prior art that may invalidate an invention under 35 U.S.C. §102, Novelty and 35 U.S.C. §103, Non-Obviousness. In short, I use a variety of databases and research tools in an attempt to find, analyze, and report on every patent or publication that might prevent a client from obtaining exclusion rights over their invention.

During my time at Northwestern, I focused my courses in the IP area, which means that the MSL program is directly relevant in everything I do. I still have notes from classes like Patent Preparation and Prosecution Workshop, IP Fundamentals, and Patent Law that help me navigate my job every day. In addition to those classes, I was fortunate enough to squeeze in an internship at Northwestern’s Innovation and New Ventures Office in Evanston (INVO), which prepared me for exactly the kind of work I would be doing at Cardinal.  (And Cardinal just so happens to be right down the street from INVO!)

What I enjoy most about my job is being able to operate at the forefront of science every single day. Whether it be from a small-scale inventor or the R&D department of a Global 100 company, I get to see innovation that is on the cutting edge of a variety of disciplines – from biotech to manufacturing and everything in between. Quickly interpreting the main inventive concepts of complex innovation is challenging enough, but then scouring the world of public information while on a deadline makes the job quite a bit more stressful than sitting in a lecture hall listening to Professor Peter DiCola talk about copyright infringement. But I think the challenge is what keeps the job interesting. I never know what kind of case might end up on my docket next, and naturally, no invention is ever the same.

Despite the amount of substantive knowledge I gained in my MSL studies, the most important lesson I learned was actually outside of the lecture hall. The lesson is simple. You learn more in a more diverse environment. What I mean by that is this:  every single person you come into contact with can teach you more than you realize, especially in a program like the MSL, which draws students from such diverse backgrounds. From students to professors, everyone brings a unique perspective; being able to learn from those perspectives and view a problem from multiple angles is oftentimes the best way to solve it. As we move toward a world where scientists no longer stick just to laboratory benches and law is no longer exclusively composed just of lawyers, it is important for professionals to be able to view problems through multiple lenses.

Kyle M. Pikula (MSL ’19), Patent Engineer: Life Sciences, Mechanical Engineering, Cardinal Intellectual Property

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