Q + A
IP attorney Ben Siders works with businesses of all sizes, from established commercial enterprises to new startups, to develop and protect their IP assets. In this Q + A, Ben discusses how he got into IP law, why he likes it so much, and the next big thing happening in the industry.
How did your career develop into an IP practice?
Before I became an attorney, I was a software developer, which helped shape my law practice into what it is today. My career at Lewis Rice started with a high stakes IT dispute, and after that case closed, I passed the patent bar exam and joined the IP Department, where I do a mix of patent and trademark prosecution. On the litigation side, I work on technology disputes—primarily software auditing but also issues with domain names, development agreements, and IP disputes. My transactional practice has also grown with diligence work and contract drafting.
What is your favorite part about being a startup attorney?
It’s fun to get to hear about new entrepreneurial ideas and technologies before anyone else knows about them, meet the people behind the ideas, and see their visions and dreams for their companies grow. But what I like the most is that we get to work with these companies across the whole life cycle, going from being just a concept in someone’s mind to a profitable business with dozens of employees and after only a few years.
What current trends in the IP industry should we be aware of?
I suspect that the next big thing will be artificial intelligence software. We went through a huge revolution in the 90s and early 2000s with the commercialization of the Internet, followed by most of us being constantly connected through our devices and generating data about ourselves. Now, data is generated faster than we can analyze, and we rely more on computer software to analyze that data to help us understand what is useful or important. Artificial intelligence is doing that work. On a similar note, data privacy and personal privacy are growing concerns as technologies become more intrusive, smarter, and able to track us. The implications for our privacy are far-reaching and will lead to further social and legal reforms.
What do you like to do for fun?
My wife is a foodie, and I like craft beer, so we like to try new restaurants and breweries. We also love trivia nights, but we almost always finish in second place. Our lone victory was a Star Wars trivia night I won single-handedly. We have five children from age 6 to 21 who keep us pretty busy. We also love movies, and we’re about halfway through watching all of the Marvel movies with our kids. We like to go up to Iowa a few times a year to visit my oldest son, who is attending the University of Iowa. Usually we will catch a Hawkeyes game and stop by the Amana Colonies for some German food while we’re there.
What is the smartest piece of advice you have ever received?
One piece of advice that I have found to be absolutely true is to marry the right person. Who you marry is the single most important decision you will ever make and determines most of your happiness in life. I definitely made the right choice.