For this week's #featurefriday we have talked to Jonas Jarvholm, Director in the SACC-Georgia board and Patent Attorney at Ballard Spahr, a national law firm and corporate member off SACC-Georgia. Read on about how Jonas' talent in tennis took him to the US, and how his golf interest lead to his career path, and much more, enjoy!
Jonas was born and raised in Partille, which is located just outside of Gothenburg, Sweden. He has played tennis for as long as he can remember, and eventually had the opportunity to get a college tennis scholarship here in the US. In 1998, he made the big move across the Atlantic ocean and has stayed since.
- Atlanta is one of the tennis capitals of the world with about 80,000 competitive players. I have been involved in the tennis community since I moved to Atlanta in 2002. One of my favorite memories was when Mats Wilander and I played against Michael Pernfors (two famous tennis players from Sweden) and his college double partner in an exhibition match.
From Chemistry to Law
After college, Jonas pursued a Ph.D. in Chemistry from Georgia Institute of Technology. His research involved modifying and analyzing semiconductive surfaces. The water repellency of these surfaces was one of the properties he investigated, and this research project and his interest in golf led to his current career path.
- I realized that a golf ball attracts water and mud when it is wet outside, and therefore doesn’t perform as well. So I figured why not invent a golf ball that stays clean and dry at all times. I hired a law firm to help me obtain a patent on my invention. Unfortunately, my golf ball never took off, but it gave me an introduction to patent law.
After graduating from Georgia Tech, he had the opportunity to work as Scientific Advisor for a law firm. Jonas explains how this often is how you get started in patent law, as all inventions are technical, and therefore a science background is needed to fully understand the inventions. He very much enjoyed the work and decided to go to law school, and now works as a Patent Attorney for Ballard Spahr.
- There is definitely a connection between law and science! What i really like about my job is that I get the best of both worlds - half science, half law. Half the time I talk to inventors about their ideas, experiments, and results, and how they differ from what has has been done before. The other half of my job is to take what I have learned from the inventors and help them get a valuable patent for themselves or their company.
Ballard Spahr and Patent Law
Ballard Spahr is a national law firm with around 650 attorneys in 15 offices. It is a general practice firm and focuses on all corporate aspects, such as litigation, business and finance, public finance, real estate, and intellectual property, which is the area Jonas works in. Jonas further explains how the industry in general is similar in the US compared to other countries, such as Sweden, but how the actual law surrounding patents differs a lot.
- Fundamentally the industry is kind of the same worldwide, law firms help individuals or companies either manage risk or create value. In terms of patent law though, there is no world wide patent, each individual country has its own laws related to patents. For instance, strategies that work to obtain a patent in Europe can be fruitless here in the US, and vice versa.
Ties to Sweden
Since Swedish companies needs a US patent attorney to get a US patent, Jonas has a lot of contact with Swedish companies and people.
- I work a lot with Swedish companies and I also have my entire family there, so I’d say that I spend half of my time with Sweden in some form. I travel to Sweden at least twice a year to visit current and prospective clients, as well as family.
Ballard Spahr is a corporate member of SACC-Georgia, and Jonas himself is very involved in the Swedish community here in Atlanta, being one of the Directors in the organization’s board.
- So Ballard Spahr joined SACC-GA because of me! Jokes aside, I do work a lot with Sweden and I love my Swedish heritage. I think it’s important to keep that and invest in it, and SACC-GA is a fantastic organization for that. It gives me benefits in two ways, both through business opportunities with Sweden, but also providing the opportunity to meet other Swedes and do the things we like, eat what we like, celebrate cultural events and so on. Besides the Golf Tournament that I help organize, I really enjoy Sweden Day and the Lucia Gala, because it brings back memories from home. SACC-GA does a great job of making sure that the traditions are kept here as much as possible. I am a huge believer in personal relationships, and that itself is also a reason to join SACC-GA!