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Professor Shahrokh (Seve) Falati, Ph.D., J.D., never felt far from the environment of higher education, having attended four universities, two in the U.S. and two in the U.K.
After more than 10 years in private practice in intellectual property law and related legal fields, Professor Falati is returning to the classroom as Albany Law School’s recently hired Director of Programs for Patents, Technology Transfer, Innovation and Entrepreneurship. He will teach Patent Law; Trademark & Unfair Competition Law; and Entrepreneurship Law in Emerging Technologies, a course designed to give students hands-on experience in representing innovative new companies.
“I will be mirroring, to an extent, how such entities are represented in the private sector,” Professor Falati said. “Which means what? Which means you have a client who comes in with an idea, has never formed a company, doesn’t know how to develop the idea, doesn’t know how to take the idea to the marketplace, and doesn’t know what happens when they want to get investors. There are a lot of legal areas, stumbling blocks, and mistakes that can happen along the process.”
Students in the Entrepreneurship Law in Emerging Technologies class will work with hand-picked Idea Champions, entrepreneurs identified by Professor Falati in collaboration with the Research Foundation for The State University of New York (RF SUNY) and also with the University at Albany. The course will culminate in a comprehensive final report that focuses on the legal aspects of forming a new technology company, and this report will be delivered directly to the Idea Champion “client” on a confidential basis.
“This course is going to be slightly more than half theoretical, and then for the latter half, students are going to be in small groups helping a real client,” Professor Falati said. “The students will have to manage some of the key legal challenges of their real-life new technology client. This is important because these researchers, or idea champions as we call them, actually have commercializable ideas that are in their infancy and there is a commitment by our partner institution to seek legal assistance in developing these new ideas into future novel products and services.”
“I will be mirroring, to an extent, how [innovative startup companies] are represented in the private sector. ... The students will have to manage some of the key legal challenges of their real-life new technology client.”
One of the teams will work with an entrepreneur who is developing innovative medical instrumentation for use in public and private medical research laboratories and hospitals. Another student team will work on the legal issues of a technology that involves assisting patients, including the elderly, who for various reasons are not able to easily move their bodies.
“The students will have to sign non-disclosure agreements,” Professor Falati said. “I cannot answer too many of your questions and say much now and we will see how this develops, but there have been, interestingly enough, a number of students who have come to see me or emailed me expressing enthusiasm for this hybrid course.” He went on to note, “As director of programming within this space, I will also be cognizant of knowing our position as fundamentally an academic institution and very aware of not impinging on or limiting the business opportunities available to lawyers in private practice. You know, it’s a fine line, but I see our role to hopefully better equip law students interested in this field to the practice of law outside our walls, and at the same time, provide options for our Idea Champion partners at UAlbany and RF SUNY to become aware of the legal issues on a confidential basis and be better informed to seek outside professional legal representation.”
Professor Falati — who has been meeting with RF SUNY and UAlbany officials — said the collaboration was initiated because of the desire to provide a practical component of his class to his upper-level law students, and similarly due to the high demand for legal assistance within SUNY’s innovation ecosystem, including at UAlbany. It is something of a win-win situation for both Albany Law School and its collaborating institutions, which stand to gain from the students’ efforts, according to Professor Falati.
“Those entities will get to see this benefit for some of their key technologies,” he said. “It can be a good foundation to establish the program so we can grow it year by year. You ask about long-term, but for now the vision is necessarily short-term and we will revisit this and make improvements over time as needed.”
Professor Falati remains involved as a leader for entrepreneurship and innovation programming around Albany. He is one of the principal organizers of the upcoming Capital Region Biotechnology Innovation Day (CRBID), a full-day event Sept. 16 at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute involving many of the area’s academic institutions, startups, and established companies including Albany Molecular Research Inc., Taconic Farms, General Electric, Krackeler Scientific, VWR, Regeneron and AngioDynamics.
For law students, it’s an opportunity to network. “Many companies and decision-takers will be there. … Anything is possible and can happen.”
Professor Falati’s areas of legal expertise include patent law; trademark and unfair competition law; general intellectual property law; and entrepreneurship law. Prior to joining the faculty, he worked in private practice, focusing exclusively on representing clients on IP-related matters at the large, prominent law firms of Jones Day and HRFM. He still maintains a very limited private practice, and aims to use this as leverage to, at times, connect capable students to companies seeking interns and/or entry level positions. He has represented many university researchers (including a Nobel laureate in medicine), startup companies developing new technologies, and larger established corporations.
He is a graduate of the University of Edinburgh (B.Sc.), University of Bristol (Ph.D.), and New York Law School (J.D.), and was a Fellow in Medicine at Harvard Medical School/Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. His Ph.D. and Postdoctoral Fellowship, both in the field of blood and cardiovascular disease, produced a number of high impact publications.
Professor Falati is admitted to practice law in New York and Massachusetts, before the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts, and as a registered patent attorney before the United States Patent & Trademark Office.