Login | April 19, 2018

Meet the new director of Akron Law’s IP Center

Legal News Reporter

Published: October 3, 2017

He began his career as a project engineer at a technology company in Sonoma County, California but it wasn’t long before California native Ryan T. Holte found himself intrigued by the law.

Now more than 10 years later, Holte has served in a wide variety of legal positions, all of which he said prepared him well for his latest challenge as the David L. Brennan Associate Professor of Law and director of The University of Akron School of Law’s Center for Intellectual Property Law and Technology.

Holte officially began the job on Aug. 28, after leaving Southern Illinois University School of Law, where he was an assistant professor and director of judicial clerkships & special placements for four years.

He takes over for former Director and Interim Co-Dean Ryan Vacca, who is now teaching at the University of New Hampshire School of Law.

“I am very excited and enthusiastic about my new position,” said Holte. “Akron Law’s IP program is very well known across the country and for someone like myself who teaches IP law, this job is a dream come true.

“Although I did not officially start until late August, I have been familiarizing myself with the center and planning events remotely since June.”

“We’re really excited to have Ryan on board,” said The University of Akron School of Law Dean Christopher J. (C.J.) Peters. “He’s proactive, student-focused and brings an entrepreneurial spirit to the law school.

“He knows a lot of people nationwide in the intellectual property area, has experience as an administrator and has hit the ground running, reaching out to our students, alumni and members of our IP Advisory Council even before he started.”

Born in Napa, California, Holte received his bachelor’s degree in engineering from the California Maritime Academy in Vallejo, California.

“Growing up in Napa, a friend’s father was the captain of a merchant marine ship and I intended to become a merchant marine deckhand,” said Holte. “I planned to join the Navy Reserve but I switched to land-based engineering because of an eye issue.”

As part of his cooperative program at the California Maritime Academy, he was hired at Agilent Technologies, a spinoff of Hewlett Packard.

“I worked at Agilent from 2002 to 2005, first as an engineering intern, then as a project engineer,” he said. “One day while working on a project at Agilent Labs, someone mentioned protecting the rights in the project we were working on and ‘patent lawyers,’ which intrigued me to research what patent lawyers do.

“I was fascinated by the fact that a legal job could also involve new technology, which was right up my alley.”

Soon after, he enrolled at the University of California Davis School of Law.

During law school, he founded and operated Diesel Depot, a used car dealership specializing in biodiesel and hybrid vehicles. He also held other jobs in law school, including serving as a summer law clerk with the U.S. Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals in Washington D.C.

In the summer of 2007, he was a student associate/legal intern at the Finnegan law firm in Atlanta. He also worked as a student associate at Jones Day’s Atlanta office and was later hired as an associate at the firm.

For two years at the beginning of his practice, Holte clerked for Judge Loren A. Smith at the U.S. Court of Federal Claims and then Judge Stanley Birch, Jr. (now retired) at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.

After his clerkships, while practicing at Jones Day, he met his wife Jessica. The two have been married since 2013 and have one son, Harvey, who was born this year.

Upon leaving Jones Day in July 2012, he served as a litigation attorney for the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.

Shortly after, he also founded Counter Echo Solutions, an electrical engineering technology company that develops technological solutions for battlefield threats. He is co-inventor of an electrical engineering patent and remains general counsel of the business.

Holte said he had been interested in academia ever since law school so when he learned of the position at Southern Illinois University School of Law, he embraced the opportunity.

“I started in July 2013 as a tenure-track assistant professor,” said Holte. “In the fall of 2016 my wife and I traveled to Akron Law to participate in the annual Akron Law IP Scholars Forum and we spent a few extra days in the area. We really enjoyed our time in Ohio, so when I heard about the opening at Akron Law a few months later, I was very excited to apply.”

Daniel Brean, an assistant professor of law who also specializes in intellectual property, was on the hiring committee.

“I first met Ryan when he came to the law school to participate in our annual IP Scholars Forum,” said Brean. “I was immediately impressed by Ryan. He is an experienced lawyer, an excellent scholar and a true entrepreneur. He brings tremendous dedication and enthusiasm to our mission at the IP center.

“Ryan cares a great deal about the quality of education and providing extracurricular and networking opportunities to our students,” said Brean.

“We’re excited to have him here.”

Akron Law assistant professor Camilla Hrdy described Holte as “a fantastic scholar, teacher and colleague.”

The two have known one another for several years, meeting through IP legal scholarship conferences.

“I feel very fortunate to have Ryan join the intellectual property program as the new director,” said Hrdy. “I feel confident he will continue to keep Akron Law IP a strong program and build on the strengths of his predecessor Ryan Vacca. I predict we have some exciting years ahead.”

Holte said he wants to increase the number of students coming to Akron to study intellectual property law and strengthen IP graduate placement in northeast Ohio and nationally.

“A large part of this work involves increasing IP Law programming and growing our communications network,” said Holte. “I’ve already hired an IP Center student director as well as a research assistant to help with my legal scholarship projects.

“We are planning a number of events and opportunities for law students to plug into our IP events immediately. I would expect to double if not triple the number of speakers and events at the law school this year.

“We are already on track for four significant events in September and already confirmed in the spring to host former Chief Judge of the Federal Circuit Paul Michel and former International Trade Commissioner Scott Kieff.

“We’re off to a great start,” said Holte.