Meet the Team at HFZ: 5 Questions with Patent Attorney Sergio Filice

sergio filice patent attorney at hanley flight & zimmerman mechanical practice group expert spotlight

Sergio Filice is going on his 16th year at Hanley Flight & Zimmerman, where his practice focuses on patent prosecution and patent portfolio development in the mechanical and electro-mechanical arts.

He works with inventors and engineers to quickly grasp and analyze their inventions and provides the highest level of quality and protection for their intellectual property.

“I have been blessed to have been part of this journey with HFZ,” he said.

We recently sat down with Sergio to learn more about how he became a patent lawyer and why HFZ is the best place for him to practice.

Why did you decide to practice patent law?

As a high school senior, Sergio was interested in pursuing a career in either law or engineering. He chose the engineering path because he was always fascinated with how things work and operate.

After graduation, Sergio became a mechanical engineer at Abbott Laboratories, where he was introduced to the patent team that conducted patentability searches on the designs that his team were developing.

“I enjoyed reviewing patents as they provided an in-depth description of how a particular technology worked,” he said. “This was fascinating for me because I always had a desire for learning about new technologies.”

While Sergio enjoyed his time at Abbott as a design engineer, his dream was to become an attorney, so he entered law school.

“I realized that as a patent attorney, I was able to mesh the two worlds of engineering and law,” he said.

What attracted you to join HFZ?

The fact that HFZ is a patent boutique firm was very attractive during Sergio’s employment search as a patent attorney.

“I knew that working at HFZ would allow me to develop strong patent drafting and prosecution skills and best practices,” he said. “During my interview with Mark Hanley, Jim Flight and Mark Zimmerman, I was also impressed with HFZ’s two-tier review process and I knew that I would be able to gain the most training and experience at HFZ.

“After my interview, I knew that this was the firm where I wanted to practice. The founders established an atmosphere where everyone collaborates as a team, which results in a high-quality work product.”

How does the team at HFZ work together?

“We have an open-door policy that allows me to walk in anyone’s office at any given time to ask questions about a particular matter or case that I’m working on,” Sergio said. “This allows me and other HFZ team members to bounce ideas to improve the quality of our client’s IP. This is a great addition to HFZ’s training process which allows our team to improve our skills while working in a collaborative manner.”

Unlike other firms, HFZ employs a very collaborative approach to representing its clients. While many firms operate as a series of silos, where each partner operates independently and often competes with other partners for resources to service his or her clients, HFZ has strictly avoided such a traditional approach. Founders Mark Hanley, Jim Flight, and Mark Zimmerman have never had a competition for resources, but instead set the tone to ensure HFZ always operates as a team that makes certain the best resources are allocated to complete each project in an efficient and effective manner.

What else makes HFZ a great place to work?

“I really enjoy the variety of technologies that I’m able to work on at HFZ. Unlike other firms that might silo their attorneys to a single client, HFZ’s firm structure enables its attorneys to work with several different clients and technologies.

“We’re also a family-oriented firm that encourages work-life balance. Our yearly hourly requirement is easily attainable through a normal work schedule, providing more time away from the office and with family and friends.”

Why do your clients enjoy working with you and the firm?

“Our clients recognize that HFZ strives to provide IP value when growing their portfolios. I also believe that our clients appreciate our consistent, high-quality work product and they feel very confident in our ability to provide robust IP protection.

“As former design engineers, HFZ patent attorneys work with inventors to identify and develop patentable intellectual property. Rather than simply drafting patent applications and claims, HFZ drafts detailed, forward-thinking patent specifications and creative claims to benefit our client’s business objectives and anticipate competitive activity in our clients’ market space.”