It’s often said that the world is full of great ideas. That’s probably true, but laying claim to a great idea can be a tricky business.
Joyce Bozarth Klemmer knows all about protecting ideas. The College of Business alumna has made a career out of representing corporate clients involved in cases of potential infringement of intellectual property rights.
“Every year, for the last twelve, I have played a lead role in notable patent litigation cases,” Klemmer explains. “In today’s competitive business world, protecting your company’s crucial intellectual property can mean the difference between success and failure. And it’s not just technology companies that need protection. In a regulatory environment where patents are being granted ranging from parts of the human genome to the way books are sold on-line, every business needs top legal guidance to protect its intellectual property.”
Klemmer is an intellectual property attorney at the law firm of Smith, Gambrell & Russell, LLP. For over one hundred years, SGR has been one of the Southeast’s most respected law firms. As a partner in the firm’s IP section, she has prosecuted and defended corporations and individuals in cases pertaining to patent, trademark, service mark, trade dress and copyright infringements. She has also handled claims of misappropriation by former employees involving trade secrets and confidential commercial information and related claims of unfair competition. Despite the legalities involved, most of her time is spent outside of court.
“I enjoy courtroom appearances and trials,” says Klemmer. “However, most cases filed in the United States are settled before trial, and that’s true with patent and other infringement lawsuits. Since these cases are often large and publicly noteworthy, both sides are inclined to seek an expedited resolution.”
Although Klemmer works from her firm’s headquarters office in Atlanta, her distinguished career has provided both national and international opportunities. She has represented many European clients and has traveled to countries throughout Europe preparing for litigation. “I’ve logged about a half million miles in the air,” she recalls.
Klemmer’s journey through life started as an Upstate New York native. She moved with her family to Rochester at the age of 7 and later graduated from East High School. An interest in business brought her to RIT.
“I originally leaned toward marketing. As part of the curriculum, I took courses in legal environment and business law, and I found that I particularly enjoyed those classes. It lead to my eventual decision to apply to law school.”
After graduating from RIT with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, Klemmer went to Georgia and attended Emory University School of Law. Upon graduating from Emory in 1981, she took a month off to tour Europe before starting her career at Smith, Gambell & Russell.
Since joining the firm, she has enjoyed success while representing clients in a variety of intriguing cases. Just last year, a court in Wisconsin ruled in favor of her client regarding allegations the company had infringed two patents related to infant monitoring systems. She says that being confronted by a variety of issues is one reason her job is so rewarding.
“In the intellectual property line of work, you get to learn a lot about a small area of an industry. For example, in one of the cases I handled, the issue was chicken vaccines and the methods used to manufacture the vaccines. I’ve also represented the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers in over one hundred suits related to copyrighted music infringements.”
Klemmer frequently lectures on topics related to intellectual property litigation and has authored numerous articles. She also takes on her share of pro bono work as a member of the Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation, an organization with which she’s been affiliated for 20 years.
Outside the legal world, Klemmer enjoys leisure travel with her husband, Richard. She says Paris, Belgium and the Caribbean are among their favorite destinations. And in recent years, she taken up playing the piano. “Of course, I should practice more,” she laments.
Klemmer believes her education at RIT provided a solid foundation for the success she is enjoying today. As she reflects on her experience, Klemmer offers the following advice for future graduates.
“I think it’s extremely important a student learn as much as they possibly can about a profession before committing to it. As a lawyer, you put in long hours, and it would be miserable if you didn’t like what you are doing. Take co-ops to get a day-to-day feeling for what the work is like and find out whether it’s challenging and interesting. The most successful people in their respective fields, love what they do. It is the number one criteria for success.”