Sean L. Nugent, BSME

Before joining HFZ, I studied Mechanical Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. While studying at the University of Illinois, I worked with mechanical systems relating to wastewater treatment and power production as a Mechanical Engineering Intern at the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago. I became interested in intellectual property law while working as a Patent Engineer Intern at HFZ. Currently, I am a law student in the evening division of the DePaul University College of Law.

Through these experiences, I have gained a passion for engineering, intellectual property, and patent prosecution that I apply to my work with clients and attorneys every day at HFZ.

Sophia P. Pilipchuk, Ph.D BME, MSBME, BSBME

Having over 10 years of experience working with engineers and scientists in university-based research laboratories, I appreciate the effort and dedication that goes into the development and validation of novel technologies. As a doctoral student, I authored and co-authored research and review articles in Advanced Healthcare Materials, Dental Materials, and Journal of Biomedical Materials Research, obtaining substantial practice in the communication of novel concepts. I also worked as a Tech Transfer Fellow at the University of Michigan Office of Technology Transfer (OTT)—evaluating a wide range of invention disclosures, assessing prior art, drafting marketing abstracts, and identifying potential licensees—which significantly strengthened my interest in patent law. After completing a doctoral thesis, I worked with engineers and surgeons as a Biomedical Innovation Fellow in UM’s Pediatric Surgery Section to identify medical device needs through clinical immersion. This process inspired design and development of new product solutions to fulfill the needs and expectations of the Michigan Pediatric Device Consortium (MPED) program. This work expanded my knowledge of medical device technologies and commercialization strategies.

At HFZ, I work together with patent attorneys and patent engineers to help clients secure protection for their innovative ideas and maximize the economic value of their patents. At HFZ, I can utilize my previous experiences to help advocate for inventors and assist in securing the full extent of intellectual property protection to which they are entitled.

Kristopher T. Sabatini, BSME, BSAE

Prior to joining the HFZ team as a Patent Engineer, I studied Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Case Western Reserve University. As part of my education process, I co-oped with GE Aviation as a Product Design and Mission Analysis Engineer. I became interested in Intellectual Property Law during my junior year of college as President of Case Western’s Mock Trial program. Patent Law enhances my dual interests in engineering and law. At HFZ, I exercise my engineering know-how and passion for cutting edge technology to assist in the preparation and prosecution of patents for our clients.

Ryan M. Fitzpatrick , BSME

Prior to HFZ, I worked as a Mechanical Engineer at Transco Products Inc. where I designed piping systems for nuclear power plants. In this work I studied references and other engineering documents to determine the structure and operational characteristics of complex devices.


As a Patent Engineer at HFZ, I use my engineering experience to assist in the preparation and prosecution of patents in the mechanical, electro-mechanical and computer arts. My primary focus is on conducting prior art, patentability and clearance searches in order to assist clients with their intellectual property portfolio management decisions.

Larry J. Palguta, JD, BSME

Prior to joining HFZ, for more than 22 years I handled a diverse range of technologies for Honeywell in the automotive and aerospace industries. During my years as in-house counsel for both large and small corporations, I implemented strategies that generated and expanded intellectual property to protect clients’ businesses and products, and to derive additional value from licensing the commercialization of intellectual property.

At HFZ, I focus on the mechanical, electro-mechanical, and composition of matter arts. In addition to my experience preparing and prosecuting U.S. and foreign patent applications, client counseling, and opinions, I have also drafted and negotiated license agreements for patents and software, supported university research, and handled intellectual property matters arising within mergers and acquisitions.

Robert A. Conley, JD, MSBME, BSBME

Prior to joining HFZ, I spent ten years representing plaintiffs and defendants in patent litigation proceedings conducted in Federal courts throughout the United States and in inter partes proceedings before the USPTO. In that capacity, I was responsible for all phases of the litigation process, including preparing and responding to discovery requests, taking and defending depositions, preparing expert reports, preparing and arguing motions of all varieties, preparing and arguing claim construction positions, preparing for trials, examining trial witnesses, and preparing post-trial motions and appellate briefs. Representative matters that I worked on as a litigator involved a diverse range of technologies, including medical devices, power wheelchairs, power tools, injection molding, smoke detectors, cellular communication protocols, MP3 players, flash memory devices, relational database architecture, logistics operations, online ad serving, and social networking platforms, among others.

At HFZ, I leverage my extensive litigation experience to draft and prosecute enforceable patents that will withstand third party challenges and result in victories at trial.   I also utilize the insights gleaned from my years of experience in Federal court and inter partes patent office proceedings to provide legal counsel on infringement, non-infringement, validity, invalidity and product clearance issues. My practice focuses on the mechanical, electro-mechanical, and computer arts. Representative technologies with which I have been involved since joining HFZ include information and measurement systems, cellular technologies, computer software, virtual computer platforms, microprocessors, printers, and child care products.

S. Nazeer Ali, JD, MSME, BSME

I’ve always had a personal interest in innovation and emerging technologies. My industry experience includes working at both Motorola and Brunswick. At Motorola, I worked as a design engineer on cellular phones and base stations. At the Life Fitness division of Brunswick, I designed treadmills and exercise bicycles.

At HFZ, my practice focuses on preparing and prosecuting patent applications in the mechanical, electro-mechanical, manufacturing processes, and computer areas. I also assist in counseling matters. My experience in dealing with multifaceted and complex issues helps me grasp our clients’ innovative technologies quickly.

Scott D. Salmon, JD, BSME

I have great interest in innovation and how the law adapts to ever-changing technology both domestically and abroad. Before joining HFZ, I taught at Chicago-Kent College of Law where I instructed students on principles of international intellectual property law and on academic writing on topics in IP law. My interest and understanding of both U.S. and foreign law, coupled with my background in mechanical engineering, enable me to quickly grasp the details (both legal and technical) that are relevant to the needs of our clients to secure the broadest protection possible for their IP rights.

At HFZ, my practice focuses on preparing and prosecuting patent applications in the mechanical, electro-mechanical, and computer arts. Since joining HFZ, I have enjoyed the wide array of new technologies and novel ideas developed by the clients we serve and the opportunity and challenge to turn those ideas into protectable interests. For example, I have represented clients in areas as diverse as computer hardware and software, fluid control systems, electrical connectors, media consumption measurement, and manufacturing processes. Assisting to turn those ideas into protectable interests is a challenging and rewarding experience.

Kim A. Jacklin, JD, BSEE

Before joining HFZ, I managed the development of an international patent portfolio for The Nielsen Company. In that role, I oversaw patent prosecution, litigation and opinion drafting. I also drafted and negotiated technology licenses, and evaluated patent assets for merger and acquisition activities.


I have experience with a variety of technologies in the areas of software, electrical and mechanical engineering. Before law school, I worked as an electrical engineer in the Nuclear Power Industry where I developed and co-authored a paper about a technique for determining drift tolerance levels of instrument loop devices.

Brandon J. Dube, JD, BSME

Prior to joining HFZ, I worked as a patent agent drafting and prosecuting patent applications involving a variety of consumer products. Before attending law school I interned at Clean Air Engineering where I provided emissions testing services to coal power plants throughout the U.S.

At HFZ, my practice focuses on preparing and prosecuting U.S. and foreign patent applications in the mechanical and electro-mechanical arts. My background in mechanical engineering provides me with the expertise needed to work on a wide range of mechanical technologies including medical devices and process control devices.

Additionally, I assist in counseling clients regarding patentability, validity, and infringement issues.