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Tom Cowan

Tom is a Partner in the San Diego office and serves clients worldwide in aerospace, mechanical, and medical technologies.  He counsels clients on overall IP strategy, performs IP audits, prosecutes patents and trademarks, conducts pre-litigation enforcement of IP rights, negotiates licenses, and conducts offensive and defensive diligence such as patentability and infringement studies.

As a former aerospace engineer with experience at NASA and Northrop Grumman, and holding a master’s degree in biomedical engineering, Tom’s legal services are supplemented with his advanced technical abilities in a wide range of inventive domains.

Tom has particular experience with assisting startups from the conceptual design phase through acquisition.  One recent example is Millipede, Inc., developer of a heart valve annuloplasty device.  Tom prosecuted their patent portfolio and provided defensive patent diligence, resulting in investments and an acquisition by Boston Scientific totaling $540,000,000.

Other example particular technologies in Tom’s patent experience include cardiac devices, intracranial sensors, prosthetics, aircraft and rockets, robotics, unmanned aerial vehicles (drones), semiconductors, imaging and biosensors, high altitude balloons, control systems, thermal management systems, software, and more.

Additional highlights include:

Named to Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch (2021 – 2023) for Patent Law and Technology Law, which “recognizes lawyers who are earlier in their careers for their outstanding professional excellence in private practice.”
Named to IAM Strategy 300: The World’s Leading IP Strategists (2019 – 2021) which “identifies the individuals who are leading the way in the development and implementation of strategies that maximize the value of IP portfolios” 
Keynote Speaker, “Patent Basics for the Aerospace Industry,” at the 2019 Space Foundation Space Commerce Workshop
Former Mechanical engineer at Northrop Grumman, where he designed and tested complex structures and mechanisms for various spacecraft programs 
Interned at NASA Armstrong Space Center, Aerodynamics Branch, where he analyzed data for the Quiet Supersonic Platform
Co-Chair of the Licensing Executives Society (LES) for the San Diego Chapter 
Holds a minor in Chinese and studied Chinese language and history at Shaanxi Normal University in Xian, China

University of Florida Levin College of Law, J.D., Certificate: Intellectual Property Law; Moot Court: Corporate and Securities Law; President: Intellectual Property and Technology Law Association
University of Florida, M.S., Biomedical Engineering, Master’s project: Risk of Hypoxia with Medical Air Low Flow Anesthesia
University of Florida, B.S., Aerospace Engineering, Honors thesis: Attitude Dynamics and Orbital Lifetime Analysis of a Pico-Satellite with Deployed Ballute
State Bar of California
U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
Electrical, Semiconductor & Computer Technology

Software & IT

Medical Devices & Procedures


Annulus & Nucleus Repair

Cardiac Assist Device (E.g., LVAD & Heart Pumps)


Catheters & Probes

Chronic Total Occlusions

Deep Venous Thrombosis


Embolic Protection & Clot Retrieving


Medical Informatics & Software Systems

Prosthetics & Orthotics


Stents, Valves, & Delivery Systems

Structural Heart

Surgical Equipment

Transcatheter & Surgical Aortic, Mitral & Tricuspid Valve Replacement

Transportation & Vehicles

Aerospace & Space Technology

Air conditioning / Heating systems

Automotive Transportation & Powersports

Electronics (Audio / Video, Communication, Navigation, Security)

Engines & Engine Components

Passenger Transportation

Design Patents
Due Diligence
Global Portfolio Management
Infringement Risk 
IP Strategy
IP Transactions and Agreements
Opinions Counseling
Patent Strategy & Prosecution
Tech Transactions
Trade Secret
Trade Secret Protection Advice, Counseling, Employee & Nondisclosure Agreements
Trademark & Brand Protection
U.S. Patent Prosecution

  • Shortlisted in the “US Rising Star – Intellectual Property” category in the 2023 LMG Life Sciences Awards Americas
  • Named to IAM Strategy 300: The World’s Leading IP Strategists (2019 – 2022) which “identifies the individuals who are leading the way in the development and implementation of strategies that maximize the value of IP portfolios”
  • Named to the Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch guide, which “recognizes lawyers who are earlier in their careers for their outstanding professional excellence in private practice” for Patent Law and Technology Law (2021 – 2024)
  • Named to the IAM Strategy 300 Global Leaders Guide (2021 – 2022), which features “leading figures in the IP world drawn from in-house, private practice, service providers and beyond.”
  • Recognized by The Legal 500 “United States” for Patent Prosecution (2021)
  • Named as “IP Stars – Notable Practitioner” by Managing Intellectual Property (2020)
  • Named as “IP Stars – Rising Star” by Managing Intellectual Property (2018 and 2019)
  • Named a “Top Author” by JD Supra Readers’ Choice Awards, (2016) due to the high level of visibility and engagement attained with readers in the medical device industry
  • Inventor of the “Inflate-A-Brake,” a system for de-orbiting small satellites to reduce space debris
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