Biography Photo of Robert L Stearns

Robert L. Stearns

Mr. Stearns is a Member in Dickinson Wright’s Troy and Saginaw offices and Chair of  the Patent Prosecution Practice Group. He has over 25 years of experience in the legal industry, particularly in the area of patents. Mr. Stearns maintains a very active patent practice with clients in the automotive industry as well as medical device, pharmaceutical and light rail. He handles all aspects of patent law, including preparing and filing original applications, responses, appeals, reexaminations, foreign filings and actions, patent clearance and freedom-to-practice opinions, intellectual property litigation counseling and support, and the management of large domestic and foreign patent portfolios

Prior to becoming a patent attorney, Mr. Stearns was employed as a metallurgical engineer in the automotive and steel making industries. He brings this practical experience into his patent practice and particularly enjoys working directly with inventors and business people and helping to fuse the link between the technical and commercial aspects of inventions. He gives voluntary lectures on patent-related topics that are geared toward hands-on application by engineers.

Education & Credentials


Michigan Technological University

B.S., Metallurgical Engineering and Materials Science, 1987

Michigan State University College of Law

J.D., 1991

Bar Admission

  • Michigan1991


  • Best Lawyers in America®
    • Litigation - Intellectual Property, 2014-2024

Representative Clients

  • Tenneco Inc.
  • Federal-Mogul Corporation

Prominent Assignments

Lead outside patent counsel for 20 years to large global supplier of automotive, light commercial heavy-duty truck, agricultural, marine, rail and industrial markets.

Patent counsel to several small and medium size companies and individuals, as well as foreign patent firms, handling their US patent filings and coordinating with an extensive network of firms to secure patents abroad.

Extensive hands-on client counseling to identify and protect important inventions; helping clients understand and navigate the coverage of competitor patent portfolios to avoid infringement and identify successful design around solutions that allow them to compete; and assisting clients in closely aligning their patent portfolios with their key business interests and markets to maximize the effectiveness of their patents in order to help carve out, protect and grow their market share.

Excellent track record before the US Patent Office Board of Appeals and Interferences in overturning rejections in important patent cases.

Strategic client counseling and support in several patent litigation matters involving enforcement and defense of claims of patent and trademark infringement.

Representing clients in patent reexamination proceedings, both offensive and defensive, with success.

Professional Involvement

  • Registered to Practice before the US Patent and Trademark Office
  • Saginaw Valley Patent Law Association, Past-president and secretary
  • AIPLA, Member
  • State Bar of Michigan, Intellectual Property Law Section
  • American Society for Metals (ASM)


  • Early employment in automotive and metal casting industries as a metallurgical engineer
  • Part time in-house assistance to IP counsel of major client
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