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Intellectual Property for Startups: Key Concepts

Speaker(s): Shahar Harel
Recorded on: May. 18, 2016
PLI Program #: 180815

Shahar Harel is an attorney whose unique background allows him to get technology, start-ups and intellectual property unlike anyone else. 

Technical Expertise

Valuable scholarships and fellowships aided Shahar in his passion for highly technical subjects. He earned separate degrees in computer science, electrical engineering and computer engineering. These include an undergraduate degree from Cooper Union and a graduate degree from U.T. Austin, after which he entered the doctorate program in computer science at Harvard University. There, he researched differentiated services for communication networks and earned another master's degree but left when the start-up world called.  Notably, while pursuing his educational goals, Shahar also held engineering and research positions at The Weizmann Institute of Science, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Start-Up Success

Shahar returned to New York to work at a privately-held technology company named System Management Arts ("SMARTS") that was ultimately acquired for over a quarter of a billion dollars. He developed software in the fields of network management and J2EE application management for the company's chief products resulting in three consecutive years of profitability.  Beyond creating cutting-edge technology, SMARTS also appreciated the role of intellectual property and sought and obtained critical patents.  It fought off a patent suit, but more remarkably, it was one of the rare startups that asserted its patents against a competitor.  Inspired and intrigued by IP, Shahar left to enter law school.

Legal Sophistication

Following law school, Shahar practiced law at two premier IP firms for over seven years. Shahar counseled clients ranging from individual inventors to multinational corporations on patenting and licensing their IP and litigated prominent patent disputes. His litigation work spans diverse technologies such as medical devices, semiconductors, smartphones and pharmaceuticals in federal courts, before the International Trade Commission, and at post-grant proceedings in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. He has also overseen parallel actions in foreign jurisdictions such as the U.K. and Germany.  His responsibilities included taking and defending depositions, writing motions and briefs, and preparing witnesses for deposition and trial.  A registered patent attorney and certified licensing professional, Shahar is also experienced prosecuting patents in the electromechanical arts, drafting and negotiating IP and software licensing agreements, reviewing large patent portfolios and preparing non-infringement and invalidity opinions.


  • J.D., Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, 2007. Dean’s Merit Scholarship, Concentration in Intellectual Property
  • S.M., Computer Science, Harvard University, 1999. Doctoral Fellowship
  • M.S., Electrical & Computer Engineering, The University of Texas at Austin, 1997. Microelectronics and Computer Development (MCD) Fellowship, Tau Beta Pi Fellow 
  • B.E., Electrical Engineering, The Cooper Union, 1995. Tau Beta Pi, Eta Kappa Nu, Full Scholarship


  • State of New York
  • U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
  • The U.S. Supreme Court
  • The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
  • The U.S. District Courts for the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York 
  • The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas