IP Alumni Spotlight: Paul Coletti ‘85 J.D.

Author: Program on IP & Technology Law

Coletti 2020

Our Program on IP & Technology Law benefits from a great alumni network of Notre Dame IP lawyers. Our IP alumni regularly mentor students; speak at events on campus; and meet our students at alumni and Program events around the United States. In our IP Alumni Spotlight Series we speak to prominent IP alumni about their experience at Notre Dame and their current work in IP and technology law. 


To Paul Coletti ‘85 J.D., the basis of being a good intellectual property lawyer is being a good lawyer.

“I think Notre Dame really did a great job with getting us the rudiments and basics, the key ways to thinking about being a good lawyer,” Coletti said. “As long as I had those, I think I would have been able to use that training in any field.”

Coletti serves as an associate patent counsel for Johnson & Johnson, where he started in 1987. At Johnson & Johnson, Coletti’s responsibilities include leading a team responsible for all of the patent-related work for the Johnson & Johnson’s medical devices companies. This can range from surgical sutures to knee replacements, from atrial (heart) shaping to robotics. “It is a constantly changing spectrum of products and challenges,” he said.

During his time at Notre Dame, the law school didn’t have any specifically intellectual property courses — not the case now, where IP core and advance courses number more than 20, with many additional related courses.

“At the time when I was a student, we had maybe one assignment in our antitrust class about patents. I never really got to explore patent law while I was a student,” Coletti said. “It’s tremendous what they’ve done now for the curriculum.”

It’s not just the curriculum, either; Coletti added that the people he met while a student have impacted his life, long beyond classroom lectures.

“We were networking for our futures, and we didn’t even know we were networking. I know people all over the country, both non-patent lawyers and patent lawyers, who I can draw on, that I’ve known for 30, 35 years because I knew them at Notre Dame,” he said. “That’s true for lots of other folks. The strong academic basis and that camaraderie really made it quite an enjoyable experience.”

He added that the amount of alumni involvement on campus and with current students is evidence that the Notre Dame experience is unique.

“I can’t emphasize how great an experience it was. I loved my time at Notre Dame,” Coletti said. “The other thing I’ve seen is so many graduates are really willing to advise and mentor current students, which I don’t think happens at a lot of other places.”