John D. Higgins



John D. HIggins

John D. Higgins is an associate in Sterne Kessler’s Mechanical & Design Practice Group. His practice focuses on worldwide patent prosecution and portfolio management, strategic patent counseling and due diligence, and patent office litigation. John has experience preparing and prosecuting applications covering various mechanical, electrical, and biomedical technologies.

John also advises clients on offensive and defensive patent strategies that are tailored to the client’s needs. In particular, he has conducted extensive patent landscape and freedom-to-operate searches focused on various industries, such as automotive vehicles, consumer products, and medical devices. Informing and guiding clients’ management, he has drafted opinions regarding patentability, invalidity, and infringement.

Prior to joining Sterne Kessler, John was an associate at an IP boutique firm in D.C. and an examiner at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO). At his prior law firm, John was involved in many aspects of patent prosecution and counseling. Specifically, he counseled clients during the pre-application stage, drafted numerous utility applications, managed patent portfolios with applications filed in various countries, and prosecuted applications in a wide range of technologies, including agricultural equipment, automotive components, clinical diagnostic equipment, door lock security systems, fingerprint sensors, hydraulic assemblies, medical instruments, optical cable connectors, semiconductor processing, and steel casting.

While at the USPTO, John gained an inside perspective of the patent examination process. John prepared office actions analyzing the patentability of applicants’ claimed inventions and conducted prior art searches predominantly in the fields of heat exchangers, refrigeration, and electronic control systems. John was identified as a search and classification expert in his art.

John graduated from the University of Tennessee College of Law, where he served as a research editor for Tennessee Law Review and received the Excellence in Intellectual Property Award. While earning his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, John worked as a mechanical engineer intern for a utility company and as a research assistant for Oak Ridge National Laboratory, where his research concentrated on lithium ion batteries for hybrid electric vehicles.


  • Super Lawyers, "Rising Star - Washington, DC" (2023)

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University of Tennessee College of Law
Mechanical Engineering
University of Tennessee, Knoxville
summa cum laude


District of Columbia
United States Patent & Trademark Office