Lewis Lee graduated from WSU with degrees in electrical engineering and business administration. He later earned a law degree at George Washington University. He and Dan Hayes (WSU BS EE 1982) started Lee & Hayes in 1994, specializing in intellectual property law for various technology fields. With offices in Spokane, Seattle, and Denver, their clients include Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, Honeywell, BellSouth, St. Jude Medical, and General Electric. They also frequently counsel technology-based start-up companies. “We are very fortunate and privileged to represent great clients,” said Lee.
During the early stages, the firm offered particular knowledge in patenting software, which was not common at the time. Staying true to those roots, Lee & Hayes was recently ranked first for highest quality software and computer patents in a national IP publication. Building on that foundation, the firm has grown and diversified into other technologies, including semiconductors, biotech, medical devices, and wireless technologies.
Advice to Students
“The best marketer of your idea is you. Even if you have a great idea, you still need a successful business plan. Intellectual property should be a part of planning as much as distribution, financing, and marketing.”
Venture capitalists want to know your IP strategy – the earlier the better. It’s their insurance. As an entrepreneur, you need to be “honest and objective” about what you can deliver. “Credibility is extremely important.”
Being able to speak and write clearly about your proposals is essential. “Communication is critical,” he said.
Lewis Lee (fifth from left) with Entrepreneurship students