Senior Principal, Co-Chair / Twin Cities / 612-337-2509

Dorothy Whelan

Dorothy P. Whelan is a Senior Principal in the Twin Cities office of Fish & Richardson. Ms. Whelan co-chairs the firm’s Post-Grant Practice Group. She was the first woman to serve on the firm’s Management Committee, and also served on the firm’s Compensation Committee.

Ms. Whelan’s practice emphasizes post-grant proceedings, client counseling, strategic patent portfolio design and management, due diligence investigations, and freedom-to-operate studies, particularly in the chemical and materials science areas. She has extensive experience in post-grant proceedings, having provided the strategic direction for well over 100 post-grant matters involving both challenging and defending patents. When the patents are also the subject of co-pending litigation, Ms. Whelan works closely with the litigation team to design and implement an integrated strategy.

Ms. Whelan develops creative, cost-effective solutions for her clients, which range from start-ups to Fortune 100 companies. Representative technologies include batteries, fuel cells, medical devices and materials, adhesives, optical films, polymer processing, pharmaceuticals, and filtration devices.

Ms. Whelan writes and speaks extensively on topics related to post-grant proceedings and is currently a regular speaker at Fish’s Post-Grant for Practitioners webinar series. She spoke regularly at Fish’s Challenging Patent Validity in the USPTO 2012 webinar series and is a frequent panel member at industry seminars. In previous years, Ms. Whelan spoke regularly at Fish’s Challenging Patent Validity in the USPTO webinar series.


J.D., Boston College Law School 1987
Member, Boston College Law Review 
magna cum laude

S.M., Massachusetts Institute of Technology 1984

B.S., Yale University 1981


  • U.S. Patent and Trademark Office 1989
  • Massachusetts 1987
  • Minnesota 1995


Selected Speeches and Publications

Quoted, “6 PTAB Issues That Came To A Head in 2019,” Law360, (December 20, 2019).

Co-Author, “IPR and PGR: A Complex and Shifting Landscape,” Managing Intellectual Property (July 29, 2019).

Quoted, “Reviewing ‘A Tremendous Year of Change’ for the PTAB,” Managing Intellectual Property, (January 22, 2019)

Recent Developments in Biopharma PTAB Practice,” author with Tasha Francis and Will Orlady, NYIPLA (February/March 2017).

“Post-Grant Pushes Forward in Life Sciences,” Metropolitan Corporate Counsel, Contributor (September 17, 2015).

“Hot Issues in PTAB Trials,” moderator, AIPLA/USPTO Road Show Series – Enhancing Patent Quality and Conducting AIA Trials at the USPTO (August 24, 2015 (San Jose, CA) and August 28, 2015 (Alexandria, VA)).

“Making Sense of Inter Partes Review Proceedings,” Cantor Fitzgerald’s Inaugural Healthcare Conference, Keynote Speaker (July 8, 2015).

Quoted, “The Unintended Consequences of IPR,” Life Sciences Intellectual Property Review, June 16, 2015.

Co-lecturer for Patent Resources Group Advanced Patent Law Course, “Hatch-Waxman and Biosimilars: A Total Immersion Course Encompassing Strategies for Prosecution, FDA Regulation, Post-Grant Challenge, Litigation and Appeal,” April 16-18, 2015.

“Post-Grant Patent Challenges: What Bio-Pharma Practitioners Need to Know,” Boston Breakfast Series (October, 2014).

Co-Chaired Consero Group’s “Post-Grant Executive Roundtable” (September, 2014).

PTAB AIA Trial Roundtable,” hosted by USPTO (May, 2014).

“Inter Partes Review: Patent Owner’s Perspective,” West Legal Education (March, 2014).

“Examining the Impact of Patent Reform on Hatch-Waxman Litigation and the Brand/Generic Wars,” ACI Patent Reform (January, 2014).

Co-authored, Validity Challenges: District Court Vs. Patent OfficeLaw360, December 18, 2013.

“Understanding New Proceedings for Challenging Patent Validity (IPR, PGR, CBM),” co-presenter for Thomson Reuters Patent Disputes 2013 in Santa Clara, CA (November, 2013).

Ms. Whelan hosts and regularly speaks at the Post-Grant for Practitioners Webinar Series covering issues, statistics, strategy, and practice tips for those looking to learn the basics of these new proceedings, or gain an advanced understanding of the post-grant landscape. The following comprises the topics to date of the 2017 series:

Replays and materials for the 2019 series can be found here.
Replays and materials for the 2018 series can be found here.
Replays and materials for the 2017 series can be found here.
Replays and materials for the 2016 series can be found here.
Replays and materials for the 2015  series can be found here .
Replays and materials for the 2014 series can be found here.
Replays and materials for the 2013 series can be found here.
Replays and materials for the 2012 series can be found here.


“IP Star” by Managing Intellectual Property (2013-2019).

Recognized in “The World’s Leading Patent Practitioners” by IAM Patent 1000 and recommended for post-grant proceedings (2012-2013, 2016-2019).

“Post Grant Proceedings Attorney of the Year” by LMG Life Sciences (2018).

“Attorney of the Year” by Minnesota Lawyer (2017-2018).

“Life Science Star” by LMG Life Sciences (2017-2018).

“Top 250 Women in IP” by Managing Intellectual Property (2016-2018).

“Life Sciences MVP of the year” by Law360 (2017).

The Best Lawyers in America– Intellectual Property (2014, 2013, 2011, 2008, 2007) and Patent Law (2019, 2016, 2015, 2011), and Minneapolis Patent Law Lawyer of the Year (2014).

“Top 250 Women in IP” by Euromoney (2013).

Named a “Top Patent Prosecutor” by Patent Research Review/Patent Buddy (2011).

Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal:  Women in Business/Industry Leader Award (2010).

Super Lawyer (2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2003).

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