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Intellectual property attorney Raphael “Ray” Lupo’s strong interest in photography began in the mid-1970s when a friend offered to teach Lupo photography if he would donate space in his house for a darkroom. Lupo agreed. Once his lessons were completed, Lupo applied his newfound knowledge to taking the type of black and white photographs that he had for such a long time admired. Photography might be his love, but Lupo, 59, a partner at McDermott, Will & Emery and head of the firm’s IP practice, is a man with a general passion for life. And he has both the arts and intellectual property in his blood. His father was a patent examiner in Washington, D.C, and his mother was a concert pianist. Lupo started out his professional life as an engineer. After earning his engineering degree from George Washington University in 1963, Lupo took a job as an engineer for General Electric. Yet after a year, he grew bored with his chosen profession and decided that perhaps he didn’t have the temperament for straight engineering. He, thus, decided to move to the U.S. Patent Office (the precursor to the Patent and Trademark Office). Knowledgeable about patents and interested in new inventions, he followed in his father’s footsteps and became a patent examiner. During this period, he also enrolled in law school at George Washington University, where he attended classes in the school’s night program, earning his J.D. in 1968. Lupo worked a total of 14 years in the government, first as a patent examiner, then as an associate solicitor at the Patent Office, and finally as an associate general counsel at the Department of Energy. As a patent examiner, Lupo would review inventors’ technical descriptions of their inventions and decide whether they resembled existing patents. The Patent Office could deny a patent if it wasn’t obviously different or new enough. As solicitor, he went to the Court of Customs and Patent Appeals, the predecessor of the Federal Circuit, to defend the commissioner’s decisions not to award a patent. Lupo also managed to help raise four sons during his years of government service as well as indulge his mania for photography, focusing mainly on people and landscapes. He would hand out cameras to his kids and take them on photo excursions. One son, Lupo says, caught the photo bug and still does photography regularly. “We have a fabulous photograph of his as a centerpiece in our living room — a huge infrared photograph of a monk that looks like a javelin thrower pointing to God,” he says. Traveling also was part of Lupo’s busy work life. While at the Department of Energy, he spent two years on a project at Los Alamos, the nuclear laboratory outside of Santa Fe, N.M. The same project took him to Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories in Northern California. Although secret defense work was being conducted at both sites, his project was anything but secret. The work of the laboratories involved the development of a high-powered, wide-aperture laser, a necessary ingredient both in the Star Wars program and in experiments on laser fusion energy. Lupo represented the government against AVCO-Everett, a Boston-based company that claimed to have invented the wide-aperture laser in 1978. Lupo worked with Charles Fenstermacher, the head of laser research at Los Alamos, who claimed to have invented the laser as a government employee. Fenstermacher prevailed in court and received the patent for the wide-aperture laser. Yet AVCO-Everett received patents for related inventions it could use commercially. His visits to the Los Alamos lab offered Lupo the chance to spend some time exploring and photographing the New Mexican landscapes, big skies, and desert. He says he can relive the experience of the West and recall the fresh desert odors, the sounds, and what the great blue sky felt like just by looking at his pictures. Lupo’s trips to Livermore afforded him the opportunity to drive down to Big Sur and photograph the spectacular landscapes of that coastal area. Every morning, he would go down to the Bixby Creek Bridge at Big Sur to get a picture of the fog enveloping the bridge. It took him many visits, but he finally got the picture that he envisioned. In the early 1980s, the Hillel, a Jewish organization, invited him to be the first photographer to show his photographs at its annual show in its Northern Virginia branch. Lupo’s office at McDermott Will has lots of his travel photos hanging on the wall. They reflect his zest and appreciation for life and human relationships and the physical beauty that this planet offers. When Lupo entered private practice five years ago, he found that he had become more and more in demand and thus had less and less time for photography. Regrettably, he now finds that he can dedicate no more than one or two weeks a year to his art, escaping from the stresses of the legal grind to travel and take pictures. He makes it a point to go to Italy or France armed with five Nikons. He shoots at least 40 rolls of film — infrared, color slides, black and white, and color print film for the family — compressing one year of photography into two weeks. He speculates that he usually can get into the darkroom for a couple of weekend days to print the black and white film upon his return. “If a case settles, I try to get into the darkroom. If I’m lucky, I get into the darkroom eight to 10 times per year.” This year he hopes to attend a class at the Maine Photographic Workshops. Although he has cut back on his photography in the last few years, Lupo plans to get “right back into it” when he eventually retires. But he also has some other plans: learning to play the saxophone is one; learning the stand-up bass, another. Every year, he turns a favorite picture taken that year into a card that he sends to friends and family as a New Year’s greeting, although some years the card is mailed as late as February. On the back of the card, he tells the story of the photo. Lupo began this tradition in 1980. He says, “People save them, frame them, trash them, whatever!” Regardless, he plans to keep the cards coming.

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