Upon graduating from Aviation High School in New York City, Constantine Marantidis (’84) thought he’d become a commercial pilot. He moved to Daytona Beach, Florida, to begin his Embry-Riddle education, and soon switched from the aeronautical science program to engineering.
“I wanted to have a science degree in case the flying thing didn’t work out,” he says. “Back then, you couldn’t do both at Embry-Riddle, so I got a phenomenal, hands-on engineering education from Embry-Riddle, graduating with two Bachelor of Science degrees — one in aeronautical engineering and one in aircraft engineering technology. I also obtained my commercial pilot’s certificate with multi-engine and instrument ratings from outside of Embry-Riddle.”
After graduating from Embry-Riddle, Marantidis attended Columbia University where he received a Master of Science in Engineering Mechanics and then attended Loyola Law School, Los Angeles. “To be honest, coming from a smaller school, I was surprised I was accepted at Columbia,” he says, “but I figured I had the grades so I could handle it — which speaks to the wonderful education I received at Embry-Riddle. The professors really helped you understand why things work the way they do. They got us to think differently, and it paid dividends.”
It turns out he could handle a lot, including working full time at Northrop Grumman while going to law school at night and welcoming a daughter.
With his law degree in hand from Loyola Law School, Marantidis accepted a position at Christie, Parker & Hale (now Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie LLP) in California and dove headfirst into the world of intellectual property (IP) law, where he would be able to combine his interest in technology with his love of making persuasive arguments.
Protecting Ground-Breaking Inventions
“IP law plays a crucial role in promoting innovation by protecting innovators and their inventions,” Marantidis says. “I work with people who are very intelligent. They come up with cutting edge ideas, and you need to be able to understand what they’re doing.” That’s where his pilot, engineering and mechanics education comes into play, giving him the ability to look at designs from multiple perspectives. It is also what allows him to craft successful arguments — the deep level of understanding his background affords helps him translate the technology for a broader audience.
“The facts in all of my cases are technology-based,” he explains. “Whether you’re enforcing a patent or defending one, you’re trying to explain the technology in a way that people understand. The arguments often have to make sense to someone who may not be well-versed in technology.”
Throughout his career, Marantidis has represented clients across a wide range of industries, including aerospace, materials science, earth boring technologies, medical devices, pharmaceuticals, propulsion, nanotechnology and more. There have been a lot of successful cases along the way, but one especially big moment was when he helped obtain patents for SpaceShipOne. Designed for suborbital flight, the spacecraft made news on June 21, 2004, when it became the first private-crewed, commercial craft to leave Earth’s atmosphere and reach the edge of space. “It gave exclusivity to Mojave Aerospace Ventures, a company founded by Paul Allen and Burt Rutan, for this type of space vehicle,” he says. “As a result, no one else can use that same type of vehicle in the race to space.” Its technology is now used by Virgin Galactic.
Marantidis also secured patents for the Martin Jetpack for the Martin Aircraft Company of New Zealand by distinguishing it from existing inventions, and he worked with Abraham Karem, known as the father of drones, on securing patents for the optimum speed tilt rotor (OSTR). “I am able to articulate the differences in technologies that make them inventive, and you need to understand the technology to be able to do that,” he says.
The innovations Marantidis has protected aren’t limited to air and space — they’re also in commonplace public settings. “We have protected and defended the Koala Kare® baby changing station you see in bathrooms,” he says. “[And], we’re defending a company that makes bollards,” which are the posts that jut out of the ground around the perimeters of buildings to deter vehicular attacks, in a patent infringement suit.
Currently, Marantidis manages the creation, enforcement and licensing of patent and trademark portfolios, and he develops strategy and creates the framework for enforcing and defending patent cases on behalf of his clients. But each case still comes down to the individual technology, and he can’t wait to see what’s coming in the years ahead, especially as it relates to the future application of new technologies, especially in drones and artificial intelligence.
“IP law is something we need in order to innovate and move forward,” he says. “It’s the catalyst for innovation, and it’s always evolving.”