John Sears’ diverse background and commitment to understanding his clients’ needs and their technologies have made him a go-to advisor for the universities, companies, and investors he counsels.

John’s wide-ranging experience includes overseeing in-house intellectual property operations and diligence for venture capital and private equity groups, running research labs, working in startups and university tech-transfer offices, and managing and prosecuting complex intellectual property strategies. Drawing from these, he offers a multi-dimensional legal, technical, and business perspective to clients seeking to bring complex breakthrough technologies to market.

Clients value the breadth and depth of John’s technical background, and he has worked on hundreds of patent applications involving:

  • Biotechnology
  • Chemistry
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Polymer science
  • Materials science
  • Nanotechnology
  • Medical devices and medical imaging
  • Semiconductors and advanced electronics
  • AI and machine learning

John takes a pragmatic approach to counseling clients and believes a valuable IP strategy must rest upon an in-depth understanding of the technology and the business. He assists numerous professional and corporate venture groups seeking to invest in early-stage technology companies, identifying and mitigating risks and weaknesses. He is also a trusted advisor for startup companies across industries, counseling them to develop and prosecute strong IP strategies, raise venture capital and private equity, and form the strategic partnerships necessary to bring new technologies to market.

John has a Ph.D. in quantum chemistry, is a published author, and has taught at leading research universities. His numerous presentations to national and international audiences include meetings of the American Chemical Society, the American Physical Society, the International Symposium on Functional π-Electron Systems, the European Conference on Molecular Electronics, and Gordon Research Conferences.

John continues to work with many university clients and understands the needs of university technology transfer offices. In addition, he actively participates in the Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM) and is a Certified Licensing Professional.

Before Becoming a Lawyer

John grew up working on the family farm in Tennessee, and he brings that blue-collar work ethic to every aspect of his life. As an undergraduate, John worked as a welder for a local tank company before entering graduate school to pursue his doctorate. After graduate school, John was a faculty member at Georgia Institute of Technology for five years, working jointly between the school’s Center for Computational Molecular Science and Technology and the Center for Organic Photonics and Electronics. He developed courses and lectured on organic electronics and conducted industry-sponsored research on new materials for organic light-emitting diodes and organic solar cells, mentoring numerous undergraduate, graduate, and post-doctoral researchers. Prior to law school, John started a consulting business and worked as a patent agent, a position he maintained throughout law school.

Outside the Office

John splits his time between Atlanta and the family homestead in Tennessee, where he enjoys spending time with family and fishing on Tims Ford Lake. He and his partner Carin enjoy hiking, craft brewery, tending to their bees and garden, and spending time with their constantly evolving herd of cats, dogs, and horses. John volunteers his time on a variety of non-profit boards, continues to lecture at various universities, and actively volunteers with his local Habitat for Humanity chapter.

Industry Focus

  • Ag Tech
  • Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
  • Chemical
  • Biotech
  • Clean Tech
  • Consumer Products
  • Digital Health
  • Energy
  • Food Tech
  • Advanced Manufacturing
  • Materials
  • Mechanical and Electromechanical Devices
  • Medical Device
  • Pharmaceutical
  • Semiconductor
  • Universities and Research Institutions

Professional Affilations

  • Commercialization Advisory Board Member, National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center for Cell Manufacturing Technology
  • Board Member and Co-Founding Partner, Startup Runway Foundation
  • Founder, Board Member (Venture Capital), and Chair of the University IP Alliance, Georgia Intellectual Property Alliance
  • Venture Mentor, Parker H. Petit Institute for Bioengineering & Bioscience at Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Member, Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM)
  • Member, American Intellectual Property Law Association (AIPLA)
  • Member, Licensing Executives Society (LES)
  • Member, IP and Science & Technology Law Sections, American Bar Association
  • Member, IP and Privacy and Technology Law Sections, State Bar of Georgia
  • Member, IP Section, Atlanta Bar Association

Practice Areas


  • Wake Forest University School of Law, Juris Doctor, 2017
  • Georgia Institute of Technology, Ph.D. in Theoretical Physical Chemistry, 2007
  • The University of the South, Bachelor of Science in Chemistry and Mathematics, cum laude, 2002


  • U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
  • Georgia

Published Work

  • “Chemical Stabilities of the Lowest Triplet State in Aryl Sulfones and Aryl Phosphine Oxides Relevant to OLED Applications,” H. Li, J.S. Sears, S.R. Marder, and J.L. Brédas, Chemistry of Materials 31(5), 1507-1519 (2019).
  • “Understanding the effects of electronic polarization and delocalization on charge-transport levels in oligoacene systems,” C. Sutton, N.R. Tummala, T. Kemper, S.G. Aziz, J.S. Sears, V. Coropceanu, and J.L. Brédas, J. Chem. Phys. 146, 224705 (2017).
  • “The Evolving Standard of Antitrust Analysis in Pharmaceutical Product Hopping,” J.S. Sears, Wake Forest Journal of Business and Intellectual Property Law (August 2015).
  • “Patent Reform in the 114th Congress,” J.S. Sears, Wake Forest Journal of Business and Intellectual Property Law (July 2015).
  • “Modelling the Electronic and Optical Processes in Organic Solar Cells: Density Functional Theory and Beyond,” in Organic Solar Cells: Fundamentals, Devices, and Upscaling, Eds. B.P. Rand and H. Richter, Pan Stanford Publishing (2014).
  • “Theoretical Study of the Local and Charge-Transfer Excitations in Model Complexes of Pentacene-C60 Using Tuned Range-Separated Hybrid Functionals,” C.R. Zhang, J.S. Sears, V. Coropceanu, and J.L. Brédas, J. Chem. Theor. Comput. 10, 2379-2388 (2014).
  • “Accurate description of torsion potentials in conjugated polymers using density functionals with reduced self-interaction error,” C. Sutton, T. Korzdorfer, M. Gray, M. Brunsfeld, R. Parrish, C.D. Sherrill, J.S. Sears, and J.L. Brédas, J. Chem. Phys. 140, 054310 (2014).
  • “Vibronic Coupling in the Ground State of Oligoacene Cations: The Performance of Range-Separated Hybrid Density Functionals,” C.R. Zhang, V. Coropceanu, J.S. Sears, and J.L. Brédas, J. Phys. Chem. C 118, 154-158 (2014).
  • “Understanding the Density Functional Dependence of DFT-Calculated Electronic Couplings in Organic Semiconductors,” C. C. Sutton, J.S. Sears, V. Coropceanu, and J.L. Brédas, J. Phys. Chem. Lett. 4, 919-924 (2013).
  • “Electronic Polarization Effects upon Charge Injection in Oligoacene Molecular Crystals: Description via a Polarizable Force Field,” S.M. Ryno, S.R. Lee, J.S. Sears, C.R. Risko, and J.L. Brédas, J. Phys. Chem. C 117, 13853-13860 (2013).
  • “Tuning the electronic and photophysical properties of heteroleptic iridium(III) phosphorescent emitters through ancillary ligand substitution: a theoretical perspective,” H. Li, P. Winget, C.R. Risko, J.S. Sears, and J.L. Brédas, Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys. 15, 6293-6302 (2013).
  • “Lowest excited states and optical absorption spectra of donor–acceptor copolymers for organic photovoltaics: a new picture emerging from tuned long-range corrected density functionals,” L. Pandey, C. Doiron, J.S. Sears, and J.L. Brédas, Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys. 14, 14243 (2012).
  • “On the relationship between bond-length alternation and many-electron self-interaction error,” T. Korzdorfer, R. Parrish, J.S. Sears, C.D. Sherrill, and J.L. Brédas, J. Chem. Phys. 137, 124305 (2012).
  • “Density Functional Theory for the Description of Charge Transfer Processes at TTF-TCNQ Interfaces,” T. Van Regemorter, M. Guillaume, G. Sini, J.S. Sears, V. Geskin, J.L. Brédas, D. Beljonne, and J. Cornil, Theor. Chem. Acc. 131, 1273 (2012). (Special Issue: “Theoretical and Computational Chemistry in Belgium”)
  • “Assessment of the performance of tuned range-separated hybrid density functionals in predicting accurate quasiparticle spectra,” T. Korzdorfer, R. Parrish, N. Marom, J.S. Sears, C.D. Sherrill, and J.L. Brédas, Phys. Rev. B 86, 205110 (2012).
  • “Evaluating the Performance of DFT Functionals in Assessing the Interaction Energy and Ground-state Charge Transfer of Donor/Acceptor Complexes: Tetrathiafulvalene-tetracyanoquinodimethane (TTF-TCNQ) as a Model Case,” G. Sini, J.S. Sears, and J.L. Brédas, Journal of Chemical Theory and Computation 602 (2011).
  • “High-Efficiency Blue-Green Electrophosphorescent Light-Emitting Devices Using a Bis-Sulfone as Host in the Emitting Layer,” S.J. Kim, B. Kippelen, J. Leroy, C. Zuniga, Y. Zhang, L. Zhu, J.S. Sears, S. Barlow, J.L. Brédas, and S.R. Marder, Organic Electronics 12, 1314 (2011).
  • “Orbital Instabilities and Triplet States from Time-Dependent Density Functional Theory and Long-Range Corrected Functionals,” J.S. Sears, T. Koerzdoerfer, C. Zhang, and J.L. Brédas, Journal Of Chemical Physics 135, 151103 (2011).
  • “Long-Range Corrected Hybrid Functionals for p-Conjugated Systems: Dependence of the Range-Separation Parameter on Conjugation Length,” T. Koerzdoefer, J.S. Sears, C. Sutton, and J.L. Brédas, Journal Of Chemical Physics 135, 204107 (2011).
  • “Torsion Potential in Polydiacetylene: Accurate Computations on Oligomers Extrapolated to the Polymer Limit,” J.S. Sears, R.R. Chance, and J.L. Brédas, Journal of the American Chemical Society 132, 13313 (2010).
  • “Effects of Electronegative Substitution on the Optical and Electronic Properties of Acenes and Diazaacenes,” A.L. Appleton, S.M. Brombosz, S. Barlow, J.S. Sears, J.L. Brédas, S.R. Marder, and U.H.F. Bunz, Nature Communications 1, 91 (2010).
  • “An Error and Efficiency Analysis of Approximations to Møller−Plesset Perturbation Theory,” M.S. Marshall, J.S. Sears, L.A. Burns, J.L. Brédas, and D.C. Sherrill, Journal of Chemical Theory and Computation 6, 3681 (2010).
  • “Assessing the Performance of Density Functional Theory for the Electronic Structure of Metal Salens: The M06 Suite of Functionals and the d4-Metals,” T. Takatani, J.S. Sears, and C.D. Sherrill, CD Journal of Physical Chemistry A 114, 11714 (2010).
  • “Assessing the Performance of Density Functional Theory for the Electronic Structure of Metal-Salens: The d6-Metals,” T. Takatani, J.S. Sears, and C.D. Sherrill, Journal of Physical Chemistry A 113, 9231 (2009).
  • “Assessing the Performance of Density Functional Theory for the Electronic Structure of Metal-Salens: The d2 Metals,” J.S. Sears and C.D. Sherrill, Journal of Physical Chemistry A 112, 6471 (2008).
  • “Assessing the Performance of Density Functional Theory for the Electronic Structure of Metal-Salens: The 3d0-Metals,” J.S. Sears and C.D.Sherrill, Journal of Chemical Physics 112, 3466 (2008).
  • “The Electronic Structure of oxo-Mn(Salen): Single reference and Multi-Reference Approaches,” J.S. Sears and C.D. Sherrill, Journal of Chemical Physics 124, 144314 (2006).
  • “Investigations into the Stability of Tethered PdII Pincer Complexes During Heck Catalysis,” W.J. Sommer, K. Yu, J.S. Sears, Y. Ji, X. Zheng, R.J. Davis, C.D. Sherrill, C.W. Jones, and M. Weck, Organometallics 24, 4351 (2005).
  • “On the Choice of Reference in Multi-Reference Electronic Structure Theory,” J.S. Sears and C.D. Sherrill, N. C. Handy Issue, Molecular Physics 103, 803 (2005).
  • “A Spin-Complete Version of the Spin-Flip Approach to Bond Breaking: What is the Impact of Obtaining Spin Eigenfunctions?” J.S. Sears, A.I. Krylov, and C.D. Sherrill, Journal of Chemical Physics 118, 9084 (2003).

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