In the years following the frightful Wall Street meltdown of 2008, a quasi-public tech investment and development agency has been trying to add some new sizzle to Connecticut’s economy.
The agency is called Connecticut Innovations, and Greenwich intellectual property lawyer Joseph J. Kaliko was recently appointed by Governor Dannel Malloy to CI’s Board of Directors. He’s one of five attorneys on the board of the agency, which offers advice to start-up businesses, tries to lure innovative firms from out of state, distributes seed money to entrepreneurs and attempts to identify other potential investors.
Kaliko said that his vision "was, does and will remain this: when the state invests money, I think we should be looking at jobs, in addition to looking at the return of investment and the return on investment for the taxpayer."
Aside from his new position with CI, Kaliko is president and CEO of Gaming Innovations International, a company that designs unique gaming products and services for lotteries and their suppliers worldwide. The gaming industry is only the latest phase of a career in intellectual property and corporate law that dates back to the 1970s.
Before he went to law school, Kaliko started out as a software engineer at Bell Laboratories, where he did research and development for the federal government. He worked on the technology the country uses in wartime today, combining the forces of radar and missiles.
"At that time, software wasn’t patentable," Kaliko said. "So, I started learning telecommunications technology." He went to law school while maintaining his position at Bell Laboratories, later leaving to work for the Ohio-based North Electric Company and then at Schlumberger Ltd., an oilfield services company that at the time owned the Heath Company, famous for its build-it-yourself radio kits.
Kaliko initially worked in the radio division, then ascended to the role of acting general counsel at Schlumberger, where he said he "bridged the gap" between general and patent law.
His work included an assignment in Paris, which hosts one of Schlumberger’s worldwide offices. "After a couple years in Paris, I really wanted to come back to the States," he said, "And I did, and I went off on my own."
He opened his own IP practice in the early 1980s in Stamford. For 30 or so years in his private practice, Kaliko serviced mainly Fortune 500 companies, such as IBM and Honeywell.
"I took on some individual work and that’s probably where one of the most interesting things in my career happened," he said. "In the early 90s, I got involved with a fellow who had a concept of using the Internet—at that time, it was called ‘the Super Highway’—to allow people to gamble from their homes."
Kaliko said he took this concept of online gambling and developed it into its first patent. Early online games consisted of "pattern recognition" games, such as Bingo, Kaliko said.
"There was quite a bit of inventive material of my own," he said.
After his "retirement" from full-time legal practice in 2003, Kaliko transitioned into the most recent phase of his career: government. He graduated from a civilian police academy in Greenwich and joined the Cos Cob Fire Police Patrol, a volunteer company that operates under the Greenwich Fire Department.
Kaliko served as the organization’s president for three years and continues to remain on the patrol’s Board of Directors.
In 2010, Kaliko began working on Malloy’s gubernatorial campaign. "I’ve known him for many, many years," Kaliko said.
For the past two and a half years, Kaliko has kept busy. For a time, he worked as an intellectual property advisor to the Office of Policy and Management. But his biggest contribution was more related to his public service work. He proposed legislation that granted immunity from liability for firefighters and police officers.
Appointed by the governor to the Connecticut Lottery’s Board of Directors, Kaliko has tried to suggest a number of initiatives to help improve the agency’s performance and increase revenue.
The opportunity to join Connecticut Innovations made a lot of sense to Kaliko. "With the intellectual property aspect, the technology aspect, the growth aspect—it cut across so many areas," he said. "I said to the governor at the time, ‘Wow, this is such a dynamic [agency]; it’s really a place I’d like to be.’"
The CI’s 17-member board consists of nine members appointed by the governor, four appointed by General Assembly leaders, and four ex-officio members: the commissioner of the Department of Economic and Community Development; the president of the Board of Regents for Higher Education; the state treasurer, and the secretary of the Office of Policy and Management.
Kaliko said he’s grateful to Malloy for putting him on the board, which consists of a wide array of people of all professional backgrounds. Other lawyers on the board include Michael A. Cantor, a partner at the Hartford IP firm of Cantor Colburn; and Alexander D. Pencu, a partner and commercial litigation lawyer in the Connecticut office of Meister Seelig & Fein.
"I can’t believe who I’m working with," Kaliko said. "I had my first board meeting back in January. It was a three-hour meeting and it seemed to go by in 10 minutes. It was that exciting." •