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Science and Law —Reed Alumni in Patent Law

Tuesday, September 28, 2021 5:00pm to 6:00pm

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Three Reed alumni talk about their careers in the field of patent law and give an overview of the roles of registered patent attorneys, patent agents, and the United States Patent and Trademark Office. A specialized area of intellectual property rights, patents are intended to encourage innovation by protecting inventions of a functional or design nature for a limited period of time. Patent law is unique in that practitioners must have a bachelor degree in certain science fields or otherwise sufficient course credits to even qualify to sit for the Patent Bar Exam, and patent agents do not need a law degree.  

Panelists Marian Furst ’72 (Chemistry), Aris Silzars ’63 (Physics), and Adam Whiting ’86 (Chemistry) will talk about what led them to their career paths after Reed, as well as examples of what a patent application process typically looks like. Moderated by Bryson Davis ’09 (Philosophy), this lively conversation will be of interest to science majors, pre-law students, and alumni in the law who might have patent issues come up in their own practice areas.

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Host: Reed Legal Network

Panelist and Moderator Bios

Marian Furst ’72 (Panelist)

Marian Furst has a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from Reed College, a master’s degree in Inorganic Chemistry from the University of Chicago, and a Ph. D. in Geochemistry from the California Institute of Technology. She worked in the oil industry evaluating underground rock formations in oil and gas field and operated a technical writing and editing consulting practice prior to attending the University of Colorado School of Law. Now retired, Marian is admitted to practice in Colorado and Utah, and she is registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office as a patent attorney.

While in law school, Marian was a patent intern at Marathon Oil Company, where she worked on patent applications in a variety of technologies related to oil and gas production. After graduating from law school and admission to practice in Colorado, she worked as an associate attorney in the patent group at Holme Roberts and Owen in Denver, Colorado. Then she became a licensing associate and patent attorney at University Technology Corporation, which was a non-profit corporation set up to handle technology transfer for the University of Colorado.

In 2001, Marian started a solo patent and trademark practice, Marian J. Furst, Attorney at Law, where she provided patent and other intellectual property legal services in Colorado and Utah until her retirement in 2015.

In addition to experience in intellectual property law and licensing, she has extensive experience in patent preparation and prosecution in chemical, chemical engineering, and mechanical arts. She worked closely with many Ph.D.-level researchers in academic technology transfer and industrial environments, and she also prepared and prosecuted patent applications for a number of individuals and small companies.

Aris Silzars ’63 (Panelist)

Dr. Silzars started his career as a research engineer but soon moved into managing groups of engineers (as large as 400) developing new display and solid-state technologies. This led to the management of both the development and manufacturing of displays and solid-state devices. Subsequently, he managed the overall business strategy and operations of organizations ranging from start-ups to businesses with over $50 million in annual revenue. He has had the opportunity to work with companies as large and established as DuPont, as research oriented as the David Sarnoff Research Center, and as new as start-ups in the initial funding stages.

He received his BA in physics from Reed College, and his MA in physics and PhD in electrical engineering from the University of Utah in 1969. After completing his PhD studies, he joined the Watkins-Johnson Company to work on a variety of electron-beam addressed signal-processing devices. In 1974, his career interests took him to Tektronix where over the next thirteen years he held a variety of technical and business management positions to develop and implement display and solid-state technologies into Tektronix products. In 1989, he took on the responsibility of managing the start-up of a new electronic materials business for the DuPont Company and in 1994 he joined the David Sarnoff Research Center in Princeton, NJ as Director of the Display Research Laboratory.

For the past 25 years, he has dedicated himself to working with a variety of large and small companies to explore and develop new display technologies. This work has led to the creation of an independent testing laboratory with capability for optical, electronic, and mechanical analysis of evolving technologies and new products. Patents and patent litigation are an important aspect of this work and to that end Dr. Silzars has extensively participated in the evaluation of inventive features in products and in patent litigation as an expert witness.

He has been awarded 15 U.S. patents and has dozens of published papers in major technical journals. From 1993 until 2003 he wrote the monthly "A View from the Hilltop" column on various aspects of the display industry for Information Display magazine. He has presented numerous keynote talks and seminars on how display technologies will evolve and on the importance of manufacturing and marketing in bringing new display technologies to market.

Adam Whiting ’86 (Panelist)

Adam K. Whiting is a US patent attorney at FischerBroyles with a Ph.D. in chemistry and over 20 years experience preparing, prosecuting, licensing, and litigating patents for clients in the chemical and life sciences. Dr. Whiting’s legal career includes over 10 years as a patent agent, associate, and senior associate at the international law firm, Howrey LLP, and nearly 5 years as Senior Director of Intellectual Property at the publicly traded biotechnology company, Codexis. Dr. Whiting’s combination of scientific fluency, big law-firm seasoning, and in-house business IP savvy allow him to provide his clients with the targeted counseling they need to manage IP risk and capture, protect, license, and commercialize their innovations.

Dr. Whiting provides a range of legal services including:

  • Drafting and prosecuting patent applications, and building portfolios that provide worldwide protection aligned with business needs.
  • Performing IP diligence in support of business development and M&A activities, including patentability, validity, freedom-to-operate analyses.
  • Drafting and negotiating IP transactions in complex joint-development, government, and commercial agreements.
  • Counseling in US patent litigation, USPTO post-grant proceedings, and EPO opposition proceedings.


Dr. Whiting works in a range of technologies including:

  • Small-molecule and biologic pharmaceuticals, therapeutic methods, and pharma manufacturing processes
  • Sequencing and genomics technologies, reagents and software
  • AI and machine-learning applied to biopharma technologies
  • Green- and clean-technologies, biobased chemical manufacturing, and carbon-capture processes
  • Engineered enzymes, metabolic pathway engineering, and biotech processing
  • Liquid crystal display (LCD) chemical compositions and manufacture, polymer synthesis, semiconductor materials manufacturing
  • Diagnostic devices, microarrays and microfluidics, fluorescence microscopy


Bryson Davis ’09 (Moderator)

Bryson regularly serves the wide-ranging legal needs of businesses and nonprofits of all sizes and industries.

Bryson's practice at Sussman Shank involves advising and representing for-profit and nonprofit clients in a broad range of business issues from formation to sale and he often serves as external General Counsel for his clients. His practice touches on mergers and acquisitions, business formation and maintenance, securities offerings and sales, real estate transactions, contract drafting, employment advice, and regulatory compliance. In addition, he has specialized knowledge helping clients in the cannabis industry, working with professional licensing issues, and handling administrative law matters.

In addition to his legal practice, Bryson is committed to improving social and economic equity across the Northwest's BIPOC communities. This commitment has led to Bryson's participation and leadership within several nonprofit organizations and community groups whose mission and purpose is focused on increasing equity, supporting diverse representation, and community economic development.

When not working, Bryson can be found working on one of his cars or his racing kart, or playing tabletop and board games with friends.

Event Details

Meeting ID: 925 8838 2829

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Meeting ID: 925 8838 2829