The Michelson Institute for Intellectual Property

In front of a packed audience of students, entrepreneurs, and innovators, Dr. Gary K. Michelson, founder of the Michelson 20MM Foundation, raised his extra-large hand to the crowd:

“That’s the same hand Wilt Chamberlain has… if you’re a patient, would you want that hand inside you?”  – Dr. Gary K. Michelson

Dr. Gary K. Michelson with Mayra Lombera, Director of Strategic Intiatives, and Phil Kim, President of the Michelson 20MM Foundation.

The crowd burst into laughter that echoed through the Town and Gown Hall at the University of Southern California.

Of course, Dr. Michelson was referring to his robust career spent as a spinal surgeon and inventor. Acquiring over 950 patents for his medical devices and spinal surgery tools, Dr. Michelson has become a world renowned figure for invention and entrepreneurship.

The tools not only allowed him and other doctors to successfully complete procedures, but eased the minds of those patients worried about an unbalanced ratio of incision to extra-large hands. In retrospect, it was never about his hands. Dr. Michelson wanted to change the world, not only through medical innovation and research, but by inspiring future entrepreneurs to do the same.

Through his nonprofit, The Michelson 20MM Foundation, Dr. Michelson developed free intellectual property (IP) educational materials. These include a textbook, free online course, and video series for entrepreneurs to gain a better understanding of patents, trademarks, copyright, and trade secrets. To date, a flagship course at the University of Southern California has launched, as well as, a seven campus community college pilot program where participating faculty will be infusing content into their courses.

The vision is to not only help entrepreneurs learn about IP but to aid in raising awareness for why intellectual property is imperative to the U.S. economy. This set the stage for a rich discussion on innovation and the importance of IP as the Michelson Institute for Intellectual Property kicked off at the University of Southern California.

Leveraging Intellectual Property in Today’s Knowledge Economy

The Michelson Institute for Intellectual Property hosted their launch event at USC on the evening of Monday October 30th. The night began with a warm welcome from USC’s Marshall School of Business Dean James Ellis, followed by remarks from USC President C.L. Max Nikias.

Following a fireside chat with Dr. Michelson, a panel of distinguished IP experts discussed the current state of IP in today’s global economy and the future of innovation. The speakers discussed the need for new patent laws to keep up with today’s digital world where much of the newly created IP is increasingly intangible. Topics also included the importance of IP with respect to global competitiveness, piracy challenges, and building appreciation for the value of IP among millennials through education.

After a rich discussion that emphasized the importance of IP in today’s economy, attendees were invited to ask questions, introduce themselves, and even snap a quick selfie.

Meet The Panel

Hon. Paul R. Michel (Ret.)
Former Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit


Allen Lo
VP & Deputy General Counsel, Head of Intellectual Property, Facebook


Suzanne Wilson
Deputy General Counsel, The Walt Disney Company


Mark Ringes
VP, Assistant General Counsel, IBM


Linda Lloyd da Silva
Director, Communications Division, World Intellectual Property Organization

Professor Luke Dauchot, who teaches USC’s first undergraduate course on IP, The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Intellectual Property, led the discussion as an engaging moderator. Dauchot is also an expert on patent cases as he advised Dr. Michelson on his trial against a medical company.

The Takeaway

After hearing insight from top IP experts, attendees walked away with a better understanding on the role that IP plays in today’s society and for some, a rejuvenated calling. After all, it may start with something as simple as extra-large hands (they are pretty big!), but it could end with an idea that changes the world.



Watch a sneak peek of Dr. Michelson at USC below!