James Rieke Joins Merchant & Gould’s Minneapolis Office as Partner

James Rieke specializes in design patents, expanding the national IP firm’s capabilities in patent prosecution.

James P. Rieke, Partner, Merchant & Gould

Minneapolis, July 10, 2023: Merchant & Gould P.C., a national technology and trial law firm, is pleased to announce that James P. Rieke joined as a partner on June 26, adding his design patent specialization to the firm’s IP platform and expanding its capabilities in patent prosecution. He also co-chairs the Design Patent & Trade Dress Group and is a member of Merchant & Gould’s Mechanical Practice Group.

As one of the nation’s leading design patent filers, Rieke brings more than 20 years of domestic and international experience with a focus on patent preparation, prosecution, and strategic IP portfolio management. His unique and extensive background in design patents, a rapidly-growing niche area that helps inventors and companies with patents related to the way products look, is extremely specialized. Rieke has handled an extensive volume of design patent cases over the years, representing companies from growth-state to Fortune 500 across a broad range of innovative industries. His cases blend a deep understanding of design issues globally with traditional IP issues.

“We are excited to welcome Jim. Over the last few years, we noticed our clients’ needs for high-quality design patent protection increased substantially. Our trial lawyers rely on design patents to stop infringement, counterfeiting, and unfair competition online and in district courts. We responded by hiring one of the best design patent lawyers in the United States,” said Heather Kliebenstein, managing director of Merchant & Gould. “Jim rounds out the knowledge we already have with his specialization in this fast-growing area of intellectual property. Having overseen the filing and prosecution of many hundreds of design cases, he is able to advise our clients efficiently and secure effective design patent coverage worldwide. This expertise adds more depth to our mix of solutions to protect our clients’ ideas.”

While design patents have been around since 1842, the last decade has seen an increase in demand for them, according to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

“In recent years, increased appreciation of design patents in industry as effective legal tools, as well as an expansion of visual design filings related to digital environments, are most likely boosting this increase. For example, in addition to filing traditional ornamental protection on items with a physical 3D shape, companies are choosing to protect digital designs embodied only on screens, such as interfaces, icons, wait routines, transitions, fonts, and animation sequences. Graphical-user interface protection is one of the fastest-growing areas year after year, as screens are ubiquitous in our lives and clients need more protection than ever in these creative spaces. Further, skilled design practitioners are finding creative ways to protect subject matter like packaging, color, holograms, and even the shape of retail environments,” explained Rieke.

“Design patents are an important asset in a strategic IP portfolio, and companies are seeing the value in design protection. Design patents are also an attractive litigation tool because a case of infringement and significant damages can be easier to prove and quantify visually for decision-makers – helping to shortcut typically-long procedures,” he added.

Rieke enjoys the specialization of his design patent focus, which also crosses into the firm’s Internet, Cybersecurity & E-Commerce (ICE) Practice Group and Litigation Practice Group. He hopes to grow his practice and get more involved with the enforcement side, something Merchant & Gould is excited about expanding. As a full-service IP firm, Merchant & Gould wants to extend its protection capabilities for different intellectual property solutions.

“Jim brings deep experience and expands Merchant & Gould’s ability to help our clients not only obtain protection of their IP through design patents, but also enforce those rights with the full strength of our litigation capabilities. His knowledge of design patent strategies provides clients with valuable protection against infringement. And the synergies between our Federal Court and ITC litigation skill and Jim’s design patent proficiency allow for strong, full-service protection and enforcement,” said Rachel Zimmerman Scobie, partner and chair of Merchant & Gould’s Litigation Practice Group.

Rieke earned his law degree from William Mitchell College of Law in Saint Paul, after earning his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Iowa State University in Ames.

About Merchant & Gould:

Merchant & Gould is a national technology and trial law firm with approximately 100 attorneys in offices in Minneapolis; Denver; New York; D.C. Area (Alexandria, VA); Los Angeles; Atlanta; and Knoxville, Tenn.  Founded in Minneapolis in 1900, the firm has grown to become one of the largest intellectual property law firms in the United States, representing the worldwide technology, innovation and IP interests of clients in diverse industries and technologies.

Merchant & Gould helps sole inventors, emerging and established companies, universities, venture capitalists, and Fortune 500 and 100 companies stay ahead of the curve to gain leverage in existing and new markets. Merchant & Gould handles every phase of IP prosecution, enforcement and litigation, including patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets, as well as licensing, due diligence, opinions and counseling, in all areas of technology.  As the pace of global innovation surges, technology, innovation and intellectual property have become an increasingly integral and valuable part of business.


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