Earl J. LaFontaine

Patent Prosecution & Patentability Opinions


Earl obtained a B.S.E. from the University of Michigan in 1977, and has been in private practice, specializing in Intellectual Property Law, since his graduation from Wayne Law School in 1982. Early in his career, Earl gained significant insight into the concerns of technology developers while working as a computer software systems analyst, designing control software for CAD/CAM systems.

From April, 2005 through June, 2008 Earl was seconded to Lear Corporation, serving as its Chief Patent Counsel, where his duties included management of Lear`s IP Department, including management of Lear`s worldwide patent portfolio for its automotive electronics, seating, and interior businesses, conducting patent infringement/validity risk analysis, assisting in the management of trial counsel for IP litigation involving the company, and attending to the IP due diligence associated with Lear`s global multi-billion dollar business.

Earl continues to prepare and prosecute patent applications, specializing in computer software inventions, but now devotes a significant portion of his practice to conducting patent and product reviews, drafting analyses and clearance opinions as required by his clients. Earl also counsels clients in the licensing of their intellectual property assets, as well as formulating joint development and related technology agreements. He also has substantial experience in conducting due diligence for business transactions involving intellectual property.

Earl serves as Adjunct Professor, teaching a course in Computer and Internet Law, at the University of Detroit Mercy Law School.

When not at work, Earl enjoys travelling, hiking, and biking with family and friends. He also likes to play ice hockey and baseball with fellow ex-athletes.

Organizations and Affiliations

State Bar of Michigan

American Bar Association

Michigan Intellectual Property Law Association

Licensing Executives Society


“Top Lawyer,” DBusiness Magazine, 2013


“Best Practices for Analyzing, Structuring & Negotiating Aspects of a Licensing Agreement as a Corporate Lawyer,” ExecSense Webinar: Intellectual Property, August 2011

“U.S. Intellectual Property Law and Developments – What Matters to Chinese Business” IP Business Seminar, Shenzhen, China, July 2011

“What Corporate Lawyers Need to Know Before Signing or Negotiating a Licensing Agreement on Behalf of a Client” ExecSense Webinar, July 2011

“Licensing in Innovation: Working with Independent Investors and Small Companies,” Intellectual Property Owners Association Webinar, December 2010



J.D., Wayne State University

B.S., Engineering, University of Michigan