Wilson White '06: Working in Intellectual Property

It’s a long way from the small, rural town of Andrews, S.C., to Mountain View, Calif., in the heart of Silicon Valley. Wilson White ‘06 has traversed that path with a stop along the way at UNC School of Law.

White, who joined Google Inc. in September 2011 as an associate litigation counsel, says it was a childhood dream to be a lawyer. “Being the voice for others has always been a drive of mine,” he says.

White says that it “makes him smile” to see the robust intellectual property (IP) program that has been developed at his alma mater. “There were two aspects of the curriculum and culture at Carolina Law that stood out to me,” he says. “The curriculum really teaches students how to be problem solvers: how to think through tough problems and design solutions.”

The culture of service at Carolina Law is also important to White. “Whether you are going to pursue a career in public interest or the private sector, the law school places a huge focus on serving others,” he says. “It was instilled in me that you are obligated to do some good in the world with this law degree.”

To that end, Wilson was active doing pro bono work, serving in leadership roles with the Georgia State Bar and on the boards of two nonprofit organizations, while spending four years in Atlanta as an associate in Kilpatrick Stockton’s IP practice. He joined the firm after spending his first year out of law school as a clerk for Judge Alexander Williams Jr. on the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland.

His work at Kilpatrick Stockton caught the attention of Google executives, who recruited him last year. “As an IP lawyer, and a patent lawyer in particular, when you have an opportunity to work for Google, it’s something that you have to entertain,” White says.

At Google, his primary job is managing the company’s patent litiga­tion. He also advises the company’s business units on other intellectual property and litigation-related issues. “It’s exciting to be in the epicenter of technology and technology innovation,” White says. “Google is an awesome place to work; you have people from all over the world who are really focused on innovating and being at their creative peak.”

He says the environment at Google encourages fun and innovation. “This is not common at law firms, but there is a ping pong table in the lobby of my building at Google,” White says. He says that “Googlers” enjoy a number of perks, including cafeterias serving food from all over the world.

White says that it is an exciting time to be involved in patent law. “In September 2011, the America Invents Act — the first major overhaul of patent law in 50 years — became law,” he says. “This will really change the landscape of patent law, and there are many issues that have to be worked out over the next 10 years or so.”

“I encourage people to pursue this area of the law not only because it can be lucrative but because there is a need,” he says.

“I read recently that in terms of innovation in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math­ematics) disciplines, the U.S. is ranked No. 27 out of 29 developed countries. We have a major need for intellectual property lawyers to address policy and legal issues that impact this, and to help create an environment for businesses and individual inventors to thrive, bringing our country back to preeminence in terms of innovation.”

Grateful to Carolina Law for putting him on the path to a career he loves, Wilson gives back to his alma mater. “I make myself available to mentor prospective students, current law students and those who are earlier in their careers than I am,” he says. “I have also committed to giving back to the law school financially. I think that’s very important if we are going to continue to have these robust programs and put out the nation’s best lawyers.”

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