Waukeshia D. Jackson of Jackson & Lowe LLP sits down to talk about Intellectual Property Law, Entrepreneurship and STEM.

What is an IP attorney?

An intellectual property attorney provides patent, copyright, and trademark legal services to emerging entrepreneurs, business owners, and inventors.

What did you do before becoming an attorney?

I started my professional career as a Software Engineer. I worked in a variety of technology companies in engineering and engineering management for over 10 years.

Software Engineering and an IP attorney seem different but yet like they have things that are in common. Can you explain the correlation?

The careers are different but the latter requires the former. In order to become an IP attorney it requires both a technical degree and a JD. I leverage my engineering experience when engaging with entrepreneurs. That experience helps me both understand and explain in a patent the entrepreneur’s idea.

Where do you practice?

My office is located in Atlanta, GA, However, my practice is limited to federal intellectual property matters in all 50 states.

Do you work with a diverse populous of entrepreneurs?

Yes, I think it is due to the changes reflected in our global economy. I work with people from all walks of life.

In the corporate business community there has been of discussion about a lack of minorities in STEM. What if any thoughts do you have on this?

I think there are multiple ways to find a diverse population of candidates. It is important to understand where minority candidates are and to foster relationships with organizations like NSBE, SWE and SHPE in order to build a pipeline. It is important for corporations and entrepreneurs to remember that diversity drives innovation. Because startups and entrepreneurial ventures contribute substantially to job creation, I think that this discussion produces opportunities for them to be in a leadership role and set an example to other more traditional firms as to the positive ROI of a diverse workforce.

What can be done to encourage more entrepreneurship and stem studies in minority communities?

Education on the opportunities in these areas. It’s hard to be what you hardly see. In essence, minority students need to become aware at an early age about STEM and entrepreneurship careers. Perhaps education can be in the form of summer camp opportunities for under-served populations that focus on entrepreneurship and stem careers. Unfortunately, many students in these under-served areas do not know or have the opportunity to interact with any engineers or entrepreneurs.

What would be your top 3 tips for budding entrepreneurs to start out smart?

You want to empower them to get their business started the right way the first time. My three tips would be:

  1. Network, which should be easy because all entrepreneurs regardless of their gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, etc. share something in common. They are relentlessly chasing their dreams.
  2. Find a Mentor, engage/interact with someone who has been where you are trying to go. This will help you benefit from their guidance/advice, hopefully decrease your learning curve, and expedite your business growth.
  3. Focus on one niche, it is important to become an expert in one area and to be known to your customers for that expertise. A confused mind never buys. By focusing on one area and building from there, entrepreneurs can be certain that their products/services fully reflect the needs of their customers/client base.