Catching Up With Patent Attorney Chris DeBacker
Chris DeBacker has made a big impact at our invention competitions since 2016. A patent attorney with a background in construction & engineering, Mr. DeBacker has experience in all aspects of intellectual property protection.
Make48 has called on Chris to assist the teams at numerous competitions, including this year at Nationals in Kansas City. Originally from the Midwest, he received his undergrad in Architectural Engineering at the University of Kansas. He went on to get his law degree at the University of Kansas School of Law, and has represented clients with The Law Office of Mark Brown (Shawnee, KS). He represents clients from all over the globe, and currently resides in Boston, MA with his wife and two small children.
With only 48 hours, teams have to know if their idea is infringing on any patents in a short period of time. Mr. DeBacker gets only a limited amount of time to research the millions of patents out there, but he makes sure all the teams are in the clear before the building begins every single time!
Chris has worked multiple events, and has a few favorite Make48 memories. “Being in the Smithsonian after dark when the doors were closed and the regular public went home was pretty cool (2016). Seeing some of the products that came out of the show to become real-world products is definitely up there. One memorable team from Season 4 (Mountain Minds), was a dad & son team. They started over from scratch, halfway through on Saturday. And they ended up winning!”
At Make48, we strive to help inventors and makers realize that collaboration is key when bringing an idea to life. Participants are fortunate to have this opportunity to speak with a patent attorney, especially one as skillful as Chris DeBacker. One of the most asked questions we receive is, what advice would you give inventors who want to protect their IP? Chris responded, “Definitely protect with non-disclosure agreements and/or (but really “and”) patent applications before you start going public with your invention. You can lose out on your rights if you don’t. Also, trademarks never expire if you maintain them – a brand is very valuable, especially when you’re first to market even if you can’t get patent rights. No one wants the knockoff – they want the original.”
Chris DeBacker excels at his job. What he loves most about being a patent attorney is, “...that my clients tend to be happy to see me, whereas most of the time having to talk to a lawyer seems to feel like a negative thing. I love being able to help (at least hopefully) a new small business come to life.” As for the hardest part of being a patent attorney, “Telling clients that either their product isn’t patentable/protectable or they can’t have their trademark. It’s best they learn that early on though, before spending a bunch trying to launch a new product expecting to have a monopoly for 20 years.”
We're very pleased that Chris will be back with us this March at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, to help the teams prepare and protect their idea for the challenge. Chris loves coming back to the 48-hour events to help others with their dreams. Make48 was Mr. DeBacker’s client from the very beginning, but the competition reinvigorates his passion as a patent attorney. “I love seeing the teams come up with ideas and work through their issues. And in only 2 days! I’ll keep doing it as long as you’ll have me.”
If you have questions about intellectual property law, getting help from an experienced patent attorney is crucial. Contact The Law Office of Mark Brown today to schedule a consultation.