About David Sanker

Patent Attorney

My story about becoming a Patent Attorney is a little atypical. This is my third career after being an Assistant Professor of Mathematics and a Software Engineer. And even after earning my law degree, I initially focused on patent litigation rather than building patent portfolios. (Working with patent examiners to secure new patents is usually referred to as “patent prosecution,” even though it sounds a little odd.) Being a patent litigator for five years turned out to be useful: when you see firsthand how patent claims are torn apart in litigation, you learn how to draft better patent claims.

Being a good Patent Attorney is more difficult than it might seem. Not only do you have to understand a wide variety of new technologies, you also have to explain the technology clearly and persuasively to patent examiners, and have to craft patent claims that are as broad as possible while limiting ambiguity. I was fortunate to have a great mentor, and I continue to learn as I secure patent rights for many companies (both small and large).

AI has a growing presence in patent applications, and it is a growing portion of my work, including both “high-tech” and in the Life Sciences. Although many patent attorneys are forced to work with AI, my previous experience as a Mathematician and Software Engineer provide a distinct advantage. That advantage continues to grow as the tools of AI continue to advance.


  • University of California, Berkeley, 1989, Ph.D.
  • University of California, Berkeley School of Law, 2007, J.D.
  • University of Oregon, 1983, B.S.

Artificial Intelligence Thought Leader

Rather than trying to be an expert on everything related to AI, I focus on the intersection of AI and Intellectual Property. I refer to my work in this area as AI ∩ IP ™. In the past few years I have written and delivered presentations about this area frequently (see the list of upcoming and past events). In May, 2023 I was asked to speak with the US Patent Office about AI inventors, and I also provided an extensive written submission to address their questions.

Software Engineer

My twelve years as a Software Engineer were somewhat different from typical software development. Typical development environments have product managers writing up detailed technical requirements, software developers writing code, QA engineers testing the code, IT releasing the code, and technical support handling issues after release. In my case, I literally did all of the above. When your software runs to calculate payroll, it has to be right, and it can’t be late.

In my last six years as a Software Engineer, we designed and implemented an SQL database schema with nearly 500 highly inter-related tables (the printed schema was about 4 feet x 8 feet, and required a plotter!). Although most of the code ran on workstations using extracted data, I also implemented some of the functionality in stored procedures at the database level.

Having many years of real experience as a Software Developer and Database Architect facilitates understanding of software-based inventions and facilitates communication with inventors.


Not many Mathematicians go into patent law, possibly because the US Patent Office does not treat a degree in Mathematics as being adequate scientific or engineering training. In my opinion, studying math provides technical analytical skill that is essential for patent attorneys. When new technology arises (e.g., in new inventions!), analytical skill is at least as important as specific knowledge of scientific facts. Although the topic of my Ph.D. thesis might not excite anyone, I continue to use and expand my analytical skill as a Patent Attorney.


In addition to published articles on patents and AI, I was an author of an Artificial Intelligence book, writing about legal issues related to AI in the United States. I am also preparing a new short AI book to be published in early 2024. This new book is an important consolidation of content in my AI ∩ IP ™ series.

In addition, I published my first children’s book in 2022, 30 years after the original idea. “The Great Puddle” is the first in a planned series.

Former World Record Holder

Very early in life I liked the number π. It is an irrational number, so it has an infinite number of non-repeating digits. In the early 1970’s, the Guinness Book of World Records started tracking a record for the most digits memorized. In 1978, while in Junior High School, I broke that record – twice. First at 6,350 digits and then at 10,000 digits after a summer family vacation.

I am not sure if memorizing π is useful for being a patent attorney, but it is part of who I am. It was an interesting experiment in human memory. Should I continue the experiment 50 years later?