Curiosity is her Trademark

Thursday, January 2, 2014

This administrative patent judge has the patent on a rare privilege in D.C.—living right across the street from her office. It makes for a great commute!

Rama Elluru

Rama Elluru '88

By Donna Parker

Rama Elluru is an administrative patent judge of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, based in our nation’s capital.  She has held the position since June of 2012, and it is a great job for this self-described centered and creative interdisciplinarian.  Her job also affords an opportunity that any D.C. resident would surely envy—a less than 10 minute commute.

“I live in Old Town Alexandria, which is a quaint, historic city right on the Potomac River. I really like the lifestyle with the main street shops and restaurants, and the primary reason is the walkability. There is more life going on, which encourages community and you never feel lonely. The best thing is, I literally walk across the street to work; about an eight-minute walk,” says Rama.

Rama spends her workdays deciding which way patent cases will play out. “Basically, I read briefs that parties submit and talk to other judges about how to resolve issues raised by parties involved in patent cases. My specialties are pharmaceutical, biotechnology, electrical engineering, and computer-related cases.”

“The route that I took to get here actually began at Trinity. It is a bit convoluted but fits together in hindsight. I really believe that doing things you enjoy organically leads to the next step.”

Rama earned her B.S. in both computer science and philosophy from Trinity, followed by a J.D. from Washington and Lee University and a M.Sc. in biochemistry and molecular biology from Georgetown University, but humbly claims, “I really just took the road less traveled.”

Although Rama grew up in a family of scientists, she chose to explore something a little different at Trinity, where she began to think abstractly—solving issues that might not have a concrete answer, like those in science.

Her Trinity philosophy professor Steven Luper was “the one who started me thinking differently about things.” And that started her thinking about law school. According to Rama, the combination of computer science and philosophy, which was possible at Trinity, provided a great foundation for the problem-solving she faces in her career.

Rama worked at General Dynamics for a year before law school, then moved first to Richmond, Virginia, and then to D.C. She clerked at the U.S. International Trade Commission and the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit before going into private practice at several D.C. law firms.

Rama believes Trinity was the perfect place for her undergraduate education because it encouraged freedom of thinking and encouraged the exploration of career paths. It also was “the right place to grow, while learning important leadership and career skills.”

“Trinity always gave me a very warm feeling,” says Rama. “It was the bubble on a beautiful hill.  The core requirements encouraged students to explore different things and the small size meant close friendships and a strong sense of community.”

Rama lived in Lightner and pledged the SPURS sorority, spending time off campus with her friends at Tycoon Flats and Bombay’s. She notes that the campus has changed for the better over the years. “It’s more diverse now, but still maintains that warm, comfortable feel, nourished by the University’s professors.” Rama fondly recalls her computer science professor Aaron Konstam, who “was my mentor and very encouraging and supportive, definitely always there when I needed him and accessible at all times. Trinity was the place I gained confidence. I was shy going in, but that all went away.”

These days, when not judging patent cases, Rama loves to hike the D.C, Maryland, and Virginia area and frequently travels, particularly to India and Italy, where she finds similarities between the two countries. “They’re both warm places with friendly people and lots to do.  I love to visit different locations and absorb the culture.”

“Trinity was the perfect place for me. It was a foundation for all that I’m doing and to this day, I maintain a very close affinity with the University.”