An inventor and entrepreneur, Todd Van Thomme's experience with his own start-up company helps him understand both the legal challenges and the day-to-day issues of running a business.
In his intellectual property practice, Todd partners with clients to identify and collaborate on mechanical, chemical, nutraceutical, pharmaceutical, and food science-related intellectual property needs. He drafts and prosecutes both utility and design patent applications. He also drafts patentability, non-infringement, and invalidity opinions, especially for patents and patent applications. He counsels clients on how to avoid IP disputes and works with clients to resolve them when they do occur. Todd also prepares, files and prosecutes trademark applications.
“Because they are inventors and innovators, I get to work with some of the smartest people on the planet every day,” Todd says. “In their fields, they’re absolutely brilliant. We develop relationships, and they teach me about their inventions. Many times my clients become some of my closest friends.”
His combination of legal and entrepreneurial experience brings unexpected benefits for clients. As a former secondment in-house counsel for Whirlpool Corp. and the inventor and owner of Giftzapz, a unique patent pending gift list-sharing app, Todd has gained a client’s perspective of a business. As a result, he understands the importance of legal and business advice that is both strategic and cost-effective.
He talks about benefits and risks with his clients—offering them the choices available and providing recommendations—without forcing a decision on them. “Often, I internalize the client’s problem,” he says. “I become vested in their problems—and finding solutions.”
As president of the Association of Intellectual Property Firms, Todd developed close personal relationships with thought leaders in the larger intellectual property legal community around the world. He uses those personal connections to aid clients in protecting their IP worldwide, taking a globally strategic view of patent and trademark prosecution.
That mix of experiences helps Todd achieve his main goal: partnering with his clients to identify and strategically protect their IP assets, brands, products, and processes. “Every new product is dear to its creator,” Todd says. “I endeavor to help them protect it the best I can.”
The Best Lawyers in America ®
Client Choice Award—USA & Canada, IP—Patents in Iowa
“Todd is extremely responsive and collaborative. On numerous occasions, Todd has listened to my needs as in-house counsel and has customized his work product to incorporate my feedback. I encourage others to consider Todd for great results and a good value.”
—Vince Egolf, director—IP and Products Counsel, Bissell Homecare, Inc.
“Todd is highly creative and an insightful attorney committed to timely and detailed deliverables that assist his clients to maximize the value of their protected innovations.”
—Kirk Goodwin, chief patent counsel, North American Region & senior counsel, Global Information Systems, Whirlpool Corporation
“I’ve had the pleasure to work with Todd for about three years. He and his firm have worked on dozens of patent applications for our company in various technology areas. The work is of high quality and the relationship works well with good give and take. I heartily endorse Todd’s services.”
—Steven Kuehl, principal technologist, Whirlpool Corporation
“I have worked with Todd for a number of years on various patents and trademarks. Todd is great at explaining the patent and trademark legal process. I have greatly appreciated his commonsense approach in regard to legal expenditures related to patents and trademarks. I would highly recommend to anyone needing legal advice for patents and trademarks to work with Todd.”
—Michael Sorenson, president and GM, Milne Fruit Products Inc.
“I have worked with Todd for a number of years on a variety of projects, and I can verify that he is 100 percent professional and always a pleasure to collaborate with. He goes the extra mile in terms of learning as much as he can to make sure he fully understands our business objectives as well as the markets in which we operate. I would recommend Todd without reservation for any IP-related project; you will get top-notch advice, very fair pricing ,and timely attention.”
—Mike Callahan general counsel/director of operations, Stiles Machinery, Inc.
“For the past four years, Todd has been the primary IP counsel for OrVance. In that time, I have worked with Todd on U.S. and international copyrights, copyright infringement letters, multiple patents, and discussions with patent examiners. With Todd's guidance and expertise, OrVance has been successful in all of these matters. Todd's ability to listen, his technical background, his attention to detail, and his first-rate character have been and continue to be an important part of OrVance. Having worked with multiple IP attorneys over the years, I would put Todd at the top of my list.”
—Mike Silver, managing partner, director of technical affairs and operations, OrVance LLC
PROFESSIONAL & COMMUNITY AFFILIATIONS
Association of Intellectual Property Firms
Institute of Food Technologists
- Iowa Section, President, 2019-2020
- Iowa Section, President-Elect, 2018-2019
- Iowa Section, Member at Large, 2016–Present
- Section Leadership Forum, Attendee, IFT Annual Meeting and Food Expo, 2017
- Great Lakes Section, Outstanding Section Volunteer, 2015
- Great Lakes Section, Treasurer, 2014–2015
- Great Lakes Section, Scholarship Committee Chair, 2013
Graduate LI 37, 2018-2019
American Intellectual Property Law Association
Iowa Intellectual Property Law Association
American Bar Association
Iowa Bar Association
Michigan Bar Association
Michigan Intellectual Property Law Association
Opera Grand Rapids
Board Member, 2009–2015
Iowa Rush Soccer Club
U10 Boys Coach, 2019
Grand Rapids Area Soccer Association
Soccer Coach, 14- to 18-year-olds
American Youth Soccer Organization
Soccer Coach, 5- to 12-year-olds
Vegetable oil-based coating and method for application
External coating composition for toaster pastries and other pastry products
Coated cereal pieces
Device to produce a modified atmosphere for food preservation
Continuous feed tablet coating system
Ripsaw stabilizing device
Polyols derived from a vegetable oil using an oxidation process
Humidifier utilizing filtered water to Keith Boonstra
Filter assemblies and methods for producing filter assemblies to John Zurliene
Orthodontic protection device to OrVance, LLC
SPEECHES & PUBLICATIONS
Todd speaks frequently at the ISU Startup Factory and at Iowa State University.
"Pathways to Patents" program, Western Carolina University
Sylva, NC, October 23, 2019.
Global Innovation Forum with Kenneth Ma, Robin Browne, Stephen Yang, Ricardo Pinho, and Victor Garrido
Startup Factory, Ames, October 21, 2019
Patent Drafting Webinar: Trends, Reality, and Avoiding Rejections
LexisNexis/IP Watchdog, November 9, 2017
"Significant Intellectual Property Agreements Every Business (and IP) Lawyer Should be Aware of"
Business Section of the Iowa Bar, October 9, 2019
Patent Drafting Webinar: Tips for Avoiding and Arguing 112 Rejections, LexisNexis/IP Watchdog, April 25, 2019
2014 IP Solutions Conference
June 2014, keynote panel member
"Must Have Apps for IP Lawyers"
Annual Meeting, Association of Intellectual Property Firms, 2014
"The Leahy-Smith America Invents Act"
Intellectual Property Law Center’s 5th Anniversary Gala, Drake University, February 2012, panel speaker
"Changes Are on the Way in U.S. Patent Law"
West Michigan Business Review, November 2011
"A Year of Evolution"
World Intellectual Property Review, Digest 2010
"When Food Science Becomes Intellectual Property"
Food Product Design, August 2008