Boston University School of Law

Robert Plotkin, Esq.


Massachusetts Institute of Technology
S.B., Computer Science and Engineering, May 1993

William L. Stewart, Jr. Award for outstanding contribution to extra-curricular life

Physics, chemistry, calculus, differential equations, discrete mathematics, analog and digital circuitry and signal processing, computation structures, computer system engineering, artificial intelligence, computability theory, probabilistic systems analysis, software engineering.

mrandom v3.0 (standard interface to pseudorandom number generators written in C)

Boston University School of Law
J.D., cum laude, May 1996

Best Brief, Stone Moot Court Competition
Paul J. Liacos Distinguished Scholar (for scholastic achievement)
P. Dennison Smith, Jr. Scholar (for involvement in student activities)
Third Place, “Law in a Changing Society” Conference, Suffolk Law School
Faculty Award (for exceptional dedication to the ideals of community service)
Public Interest Project: President (1995-96), Treasurer (1994-95), Member (1993-94)
Civil Liberties Association: Founding Vice-President (1995-96)


Robert Plotkin, P.C., Burlington, MA
Attorney (April 2000 – present)
Law practice emphasizing intellectual property protection for computer technology, including patent application preparation and prosecution for computer hardware and software inventions, copyright and trademark registration, and counseling to startup and established companies on intellectual property matters. Clients range from individual inventors to Fortune 50 companies. Named a "Go-To Law Firm for Technology Companies" by American Lawyer Media, the leading publisher of information about the legal profession in the U.S., as the result of a survey conducted of in-house legal departments at the 500 leading U.S. technology companies.

Boston University School of Law, Boston, MA
Lecturer, "Software and the Law" (Spring 2004 – Present)
Designed and taught an advanced course covering topics including the application of patent law, copyright law, and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to software, First Amendment protection for computer source code, software licensing, computer crimes, and legal issues related to open source software.

V Corp Technologies, Inc., Revere Beach, MA
Contract Attorney (October 1999 – March 2000)
Provided legal advice on intellectual property, corporate, employment, and other legal matters to this early-stage startup company in the field of analog and digital signal processing. Managed administration of legal affairs and acted as liaison with outside counsel. Provided assistance with marketing, recruitment, and strategic planning.

Wolf, Greenfield & Sacks, P.C., Boston, MA
Associate (August 1998 – August 1999)
Performed patent prosecution in the fields of computer science and electrical engineering.

Fish & Richardson, P.C., Boston, MA
Associate (March 1997 – July 1998)
Performed patent prosecution in the fields of computer science and engineering, particularly emphasizing speech recognition, relational databases, network routers and switches, and computer graphics. Litigation experience included significant involvement in development of claim construction and infringement analyses in a complex software patent infringement suit, including detailed analysis of allegedly infringing product's source code.

Gensym Corporation, Cambridge, MA
Software Engineer Contract (August 1996 – February 1997)
Designed, implemented, and debugged new features of G2-based software.

Bar Membership And Court Admissions

  • U.S. Patent and Trademark Office 1999
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts 1997
  • State of New York 1997
  • Commonwealth of Massachusetts 1996


"The Automation of Invention," cover story in The Futurist, July-August 2009.

The Genie in the Machine: How Computer-Automated Inventing is Revolutionizing Law and Business, Stanford University Press (May 2009).

"A History of Software Patents," book chapter in Handbook for the History of Information Security, published by Elsevier Science, 2007.

"Special Considerations for Patenting Software," Newsletter of the Solo & Small Firm Section of the Boston Bar Association, December 2006.

Software Patentability and Practical Utility: What's the Use?," International Review of Law, Computers & Technology, Volume 19, Number 1, March 2005.

"Fighting Keywords: Translating the First Amendment to Protect Software Speech," 2003 U. Ill. J.L. Tech. & Pol'y 329 (2003).

"From Idea to Action: Toward a Unified Theory of Software and the Law," International Review of Law Computers & Technology, Volume 17, Number 3, November 2003.

"Computer Programming and the Automation of Invention: A Case for Software Patent Reform," 2003 UCLA J.L. & Tech. 7 (2003).

"Electronic Court Filing: Past, Present, and Future," Boston Bar Journal, May/June 2000.

"Patents, Patent Licensing, and Indemnification on the Internet," International Bar Association Journal (April 1997). Co-authored with Ronald E. Myrick. Presented at "Doing Business on the Internet" conference in Ankara, Turkey, sponsored by the International Bar Association, May 8-10, 1997.

"First Amendment Challenges to the Membership and Advocacy Provisions of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996," Georgetown Immigration Law Journal (Summer 1996).

Conferences / Speaking Appearances

"Corporate and IP Issues for Foreign Corporations Entering the U.S. Market," co-presenter with Dimitry Herman, Esq. and Amy Spagnole, Esq., Practising Law Institute (telephone/online seminar), June 2, 2009.

"Automating Invention: Computers and the Future of Inventing," invited talk at Dartmouth College, sponsored by the Department of Philosophy, Hanover, NH, April 24, 2009.

"Computer-Automated Inventing: Implications for Inventors, Innovation, and Intellectual Property," BBN Technologies, Cambridge, MA, March 24, 2009.

"The Future of Inventing: Automated, Collaborative, and Distributed Inventing," invited talk at MIT, sponsored by the MIT Technology and Culture Forum, January 15, 2009.

"Intellectual Property Primer for Non-IP Lawyers," co-presenter with Zick Rubin, Esq., Practising Law Institute (telephone/online seminar), June 19, 2008.

"Intellectual Property Primer for Non-IP Lawyers," co-presenter with Zick Rubin, Esq., Boston Bar Association, Boston, MA, April 29, 2008.

"Computer-Generated Inventions: Risks and Ethical Implications," invited talk at MIT, sponsored by the MIT Technology and Culture Forum, March 6, 2008.

"When Machines Become Creators: Computers Capable of Generating Inventions and the Implications for Law and Society," invited talk at Stanford University Law School, sponsored by the Stanford Center for Computers and Law, November 12, 2007.

Interviewed on The Chet Curtis Report on New England Cable News regarding Robert Plotkin, P.C.'s transition to a paperless office, May 9, 2007.

Guest lecture on patent law, "Foundations of Business and Entrepreneurship" course taught by Stephen Schiffman and Steven K. Gold, Olin College, Spring, 2007; Fall, 2007; Spring, 2008.

"Legal Perspectives on Software Patents," Panel Moderator, conference entitled, "Software Patents: A Time for Change?," MIT and Boston University School of Law, November 16-17, 2006.

"A Corporate Roundtable: Converging Technologies vs. the Patent System," Panel Chair and Presenter, NanoBusiness 2006 Conference, sponsored by the NanoBusiness Alliance, New York, NY, May 18, 2006.

"Reinventing Intellectual Property Protection for Software," Keynote Presentation at Intellectual Property Rights on Software: The Road Ahead, a symposium sponsored by the Centrum voor Wiskunde en Informatica (the Dutch national research institute for mathematics and computer science), Amsterdam, Netherlands, October 20, 2005.

"Should Computer-Created Inventions be Patentable?," presented at the Information Ethics Roundtable, Montclair State University, Upper Montclair, NJ, April 29, 2005.

"Program-Created Inventions: Software Patentability and Beyond," presented at the Works-in-Progress Intellectual Property Colloquium, Boston University School of Law, Boston, MA, September 10-11, 2004.

"Computer Programs: Inventions Without Inventors?," presented at the 2004 North American Computers and Philosophy Conference, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA, August 4-6, 2004.

"First Amendment Protection for Computer Programs: Implications for Scientific and Academic Speech," ACLU Science, Technology, and Liberty Committee, Boston, Massachusetts, June 16, 2004.

"Software Patents: A Proposal for Reform in Theory, Policy, and Practice", presented at IEEE Social Implications of Technology – Boston Chapter, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston, Massachusetts, April 20, 2004.

"Software Patentability and Practical Utility: What's the Use?," presented at BILETA 2004, University of Durham, Durham, England, March 25-26, 2004.

"Professional Responsibility and the Emerging Ethics of Software Speech," Sixth Annual Ethics and Technology Conference, Boston College, Boston, Massachusetts, June 27-28, 2003.

"From Idea to Action: Toward a Unified Theory of Software and the Law," invited guest lecture in "Philosophy and Computers" class, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, May 16, 2003.

"A Theory of Intellectual Property Protection for Software," invited speaker, Law Speakers Series, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, May 15, 2003.

"From Idea to Action: Toward a Unified Theory of Software and the Law," presented at BILETA 2003, Queen Mary, University of London, Greenwich, London, April 14-15, 2003.

"Fighting Keywords: Freedom of Functional Expression in Software," presented at the 3rd International Conference on Law and Technology (LawTech), sponsored by the International Society for Law and Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, November 6-8, 2002.

"Intellectual Property and the Process of Invention: Why Software is Different," presented at the 2002 International Symposium on Technology and Society, sponsored by the IEEE Society on Social Implications of Technology, Raleigh, North Carolina, June 6-8, 2002.

Panelist, "Symposium on Internet Crime," Babson College, May 23, 2000.  Sponsored by the Greater Boston Police Council and Babson College.

Panelist, Professional Liability Underwriters Society (PLUS) Seminar on Electronic Privacy, May 16, 2000.

"Security Interests in Intellectual Property."  Co-authored with Ronald E. Myrick and John B. Pegram.  Presented at "High Technology Law in the Twenty-First Century" conference at Suffolk University Law School, September 26, 1997.

"Whose Law Governs the Internet?" Co-authored with Gilbert H. Hennessey.  Presented at "Doing Business on the Internet" conference in Ankara, Turkey, sponsored by the International Bar Association, May 8-10, 1997.


"Dusting Off a Big Idea in Hard Times," Reena Jana, BusinessWeek, June 11, 2009.

"Rise of the Machines," Los Angeles Daily Journal, June 10, 2009.

"New Book Explores Promises of 'Artificial Invention'," BNA’s Patent, Trademark & Copyright Journal, June 5, 2009.

"Instant Genius," Lissa Harris, Technology Review, May/June 2009 (review of The Genie in the Machine).

"Business Patent Overhaul," Daniel Casciato, National Magazine, January/February 2009 (quoted on implications of In re Bilski decision for software patents).

"Property Value," Joyce Pellino Crane, Boston Business Journal, September 22-26, 2006 (quoted on value of patents for small companies).

Professional Activities and Service

Liaison, Intellectual Property Section and Solo & Small Firm Section, Boston Bar Association (2006-present).

Board Member, Converging Technologies Bar Association (2005-present).

Advisor, MIT Prelaw Advisors Program (2005-present).

Judge, Giles Sutherland Rich Memorial Moot Court Competition (2004-2005, 2007-2008).

Member, Organizing Committee, “Electronic Voting in Massachusetts: Problems and Prospects, A Massachusetts Conference on Electronic Technology and Voting Transparency,” Saturday, February 28, 2004, Suffolk University Law School, Boston, MA.

Member, ACLU of Massachusetts Science, Technology, and Liberty Committee (2003-present).

Chair, Concord Civil Liberties Committee, Concord, MA (2003-2004).

Mentor, Boston University School of Law Mentoring Program (2001-present).