Imagine a virtually untraceable security feature that uses nanodiamonds to add a unique identity layer to any physical object.
That’s not the stuff of supply chain pipe dreams. It’s the defining feature of the Diamond Unclonable Security Tag (DUST).
The creator of the technology, DUST Identity, is a Boston-based startup hatched at MIT. In late 2018, DUST Identity emerged from stealth mode to secure a cool $2.3 million in seed funding — an investment led by Kleiner Perkins.
How did DUST Identity manage to hit the ground running?
As a deep tech company, DUST Identity understood the importance of protecting its intellectual property. It needed to collaborate with experts who knew how to translate complex technological concepts into sensible patent applications.
And in Henry Patent Law Firm, DUST Identity found the ideal partner to help clearly communicate the value of its technological assets, paving the way for its successful seed funding round.
The team at DUST Identity were already savvy with patents: Ophir Gaathon, the company’s co-founder and CEO, worked in Columbia University’s patent office as a part of his Ph.D. training.
So DUST Identity knew that if they wanted to tackle commercial opportunities, a solid patent portfolio would be foundational.
“Generally speaking, for a deep tech company like ours, the IP position is a highly critical element of the value of our entity,” Ophir said. “And most of the stuff that we’re doing is quite defensible from an IP standpoint.”
To build this defensible strategy around its IP, DUST Identity needed to engage a patent attorney with the right technical background.
“Domain expertise is highly, highly critical in this field,” Ophir said. “It’s actually ensuring that the right elements of the technology are reflected in the claims in a way that’s both defensible and effective within a specific market.”
But the search process wasn’t going to be easy. Namely, the bedrock of DUST Identity’s technology involved quantum physics and quantum mechanics — complex concepts that even highly experienced patent attorneys might not easily grasp.
When asked about the search process, Ophir said simply, “I can tell you that finding the right attorney is not trivial.”
“Michael understands startups, and Michael understands deep tech. It’s not a given that a patent attorney will understand that.”Ophir Gaathon
Realizing that they needed to dig deeper to find the right partner, DUST Identity turned to their network of trusted contacts. One of the co-founders reached out to a former research colleague: Michael Henry, the principal of Henry Patent Law Firm, who had earned his Ph.D. in nuclear science and engineering from MIT.
A prior connection might have put Henry Patent Law Firm on DUST Identity’s radar, but it was the quality of the work that kept DUST Identity coming back for more.
“The fact that we happen to have history, that was useful as a way for us to just get going,” Ophir said. “But I can tell you that after the first call with Michael, it was just a no-brainer for me to say that this is the guy who can carry us forward. It was such a stark contrast against a general purpose attorney who might know something about technology, but it’s not tech, it’s not quantum.”
On top of domain expertise, Henry Patent Law Firm also proved highly adept at working with tech startups. The firm’s flexible approach enabled it to accommodate the various challenges DUST Identity faced through different stages of growth.
“Henry Patent Law Firm has a very individual, very tailored approach that takes into consideration the context of what the startup is doing — the pace, the bandwidth, the personas of the people interfacing with you,” Ophir said. “This is something that is perhaps unique to Michael and his practice.”
Thanks to these competencies, Henry Patent Law Firm quickly established itself as an ideal match for DUST Identity’s needs.
“Michael understands startups, and Michael understands deep tech,” Ophir said. “It’s not a given that a patent attorney will understand that.”
DUST Identity firmly credits part of its success to the solid foundation of patent assets crafted with help from Henry Patent Law Firm.
“We were actually quite surprised that the due diligence process was such a frictionless endeavor,” Ophir said. “Everybody understood that we have defensible IP, and it’s in part due to the wonderful work that Michael did in structuring our patent applications to maximize the value of our technology.”
Given this ongoing success, DUST Identity is eager to continue expanding its relationship with Henry Patent Law Firm even as the company grows and matures.“
"We see our relationship with Henry Patent Law Firm as very long-term,” Ophir said. “We see it as highly critical to the growth of the company, and in adding value to the company.”
And that’s no small promise: DUST Identity’s IP budget is set to triple in the next twelve months, and to grow significantly beyond that in 2021. Without a doubt, the partnership is poised to remain highly mutually beneficial.
“Henry Patent Law Firm is responsive, agile, able to commit to a specific budget and execute on it, and crafts things in a way that’s highly defensible,” Ophir said. “I feel very fortunate that we have this relationship with Michael, and I would highly recommend his firm’s services to other tech companies!”
About DUST Identity
DUST Identity is the creator of the Diamond Unclonable Security Tag (DUST), a proprietary technology utilizing nanoengineered diamonds to create an unclonable identity layer on any object.
DUST Identity is the only supply-chain solution that ensures that trusted data and verifiable products are used and traced across their full lifecycle.
DUST Identity, established in 2018 and headquartered in Boston, was created by a team of quantum physics, nanotechnology, and cyber experts. The company is an MIT spinoff, participated in several DARPA programs and is backed by Kleiner Perkins with participation from New Science Ventures, Angular Ventures, and Castle Island Ventures.
For more information, please visit http://www.dustidentity.com.