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John T. McNelis

Industry Lead, Autonomous Transportation and Shared Mobility

Partner, Intellectual Property  

Mountain View 650.335.7133

Overview

John helps investors, startups and public companies reach their business objectives by thinking strategically about intellectual property.

A leading advisor, writer and speaker in the field of autonomous vehicle technology, John chairs the California Technology Council’s Autonomous Transportation Initiative and serves as the industry lead for Fenwick’s autonomous transportation and shared mobility practice.

John works with some of Silicon Valley’s top investment firms on their diligence related to IP and emerging technologies, and positions startups for long-term success by helping them protect their IP as they reach important milestones.

Leading technology and transportation companies—both privately held and publicly traded—seek John’s guidance on business strategy, IP diligence and audits, patent counsel, patent post-grant proceedings, and patent prosecution for software, hardware and automotive technologies. He served as outside counsel for Honda for 15 years working on autonomous vehicle transportation and worked closely with General Motors on its 2016 acquisition of Cruise Automation.

John’s experience includes such technologies as autonomous vehicles, electric vehicles, robotics, solar energy, cleantech, machine learning and artificial intelligence, optics, optical communications, communication protocols, speech recognition, virtual networks, power control and memory devices.

He has previously chaired Fenwick’s patent group and served as a managing partner of the firm. John has been a member of a variety of legal organizations including the American Intellectual Property Law Association and the Silicon Valley Intellectual Property Law Association.

A frequent speaker on IP topics, John has been an invited lecturer for hearings and seminars including those sponsored by the Federal Trade Commission, the American Intellectual Property Law Association and other organizations. In addition to co-authoring two books on patent strategy and patent law, John has written numerous articles on IP trends and strategies.

John is known for staying close to the entrepreneurial community. His involvement with investing syndicate IrishAngels keeps him current on what qualities investors are looking for in a company, and what type of team they’re looking to invest in. He teaches startups to think beyond their next funding round and develop strategies for long-term success.

John is consistently honored as a leader in the field of patent law by a variety of organizations and publications:

  • IAM Patent 1000 repeatedly recognized John as a leading patent attorney for prosecution and post-grant proceedings (2016-2019)
  • Managing Intellectual Property repeatedly named John a Patent Star (2013 – 2019)
  • The Legal 500 has recognized John nationally for his excellence in patent prosecution
  • Super Lawyers, Northern California repeatedly recognized John in its IP category
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