David Eramian’s experience with intellectual property (IP) attorneys dates back to his days as a Brown University undergraduate student. Despite that early introduction, Eramian didn’t start to consider a career in IP law until years later. As he continued to interact with IP attorneys, the discipline-bridging nature of their work appealed to him—but it was their willingness to discuss their work that cemented his interest.
“People within the IP community are very giving of their time,” explains Eramian, now managing director and global head of IP at leading asset management corporation BlackRock. “I still find it fruitful to come together with colleagues and counterparts to share best practices and lessons learned.”
In addition to embracing the conversational openness of his peers, Eramian draws on a set of diverse passions in his work at BlackRock. His cumulative knowledge and technical background inform his efforts to protect the firm’s innovations––a task that he approaches with an understanding of how it feels to be on the other side of the table.
While at Brown, Eramian took advantage of the institution’s flexible curriculum to explore subjects ranging from computer science and biology to philosophy and entrepreneurship. Even so, he remained uncertain of his long-term career goals after graduating.
When he realized that advanced technical training could open doors outside of research or academia, Eramian decided to pursue a PhD in biophysics at the University of California, San Francisco. “I took my PhD as an opportunity to explore,” he says. “I did a lot of informational interviews with folks who had taken different paths.”
Of those paths, IP law resonated most deeply with Eramian. From the outset, he saw the field as an opportunity to follow the latest advancements across disciplines while generating real-world value.
Eramian obtained a law degree from Santa Clara University and got his start in IP at UCSF’s technology transfer office, where he evaluated university researchers’ inventions for potential protection or licensing. When applicable, he secured IP protection for the inventions, marketed them to companies, and negotiated and executed licenses.
“It was a fascinating process. I got a complete picture of the life cycle of those innovations,” Eramian recalls.
After UCSF, Eramian enhanced his protection expertise by delving into bio-, pharma-, and software-related patents at local IP boutique Bozicevic, Field & Francis. He then spent several years as innovation and IP counsel at online financial services provider PayPal before joining online payment processing company Stripe during a period of rapid growth.
“My ultimate aspiration had always been to be a head of IP and to build out a program,” Eramian says. His experience doing exactly that at Stripe primed him to make the jump to BlackRock in October 2019.
In his current role, Eramian leads a team that sets an IP strategy covering everything from patents, trademarks, and copyrights to trade secrets and open-source software. “My team’s work is unique in that it truly touches all corners of the firm and all levels of the business,” he says.
Beyond identifying protectable innovations, Eramian’s team manages BlackRock’s license agreements and defends against IP infringement. The policies that they implement help to ensure the firm’s freedom to operate as it grows both its technology footprint and overall business.
“I believe I can put myself in the shoes of the technologists, developers, and data scientists that I’m interacting with because I have been in their shoes.”
On top of his legal knowledge, Eramian leverages his background in the hard sciences. As a former researcher, Eramian readily identifies and empathizes with the firm’s innovators. His technical training also grants him the necessary perspective to ask the right questions about new technologies and anticipate issues before they arise.
“I believe I can put myself in the shoes of the technologists, developers, and data scientists that I’m interacting with because I have been in their shoes,” Eramian explains, alluding to his status as an inventor on eighteen US patents of his own. “That helps me build relationships with the inventors and understand and appreciate some of the pain points that they may be feeling.”
Building and maintaining relationships with his fellow IP professionals is just as important to Eramian. He regularly connects with mentors and other IP attorneys to network and to stay up-to-date on practices in each area of IP.
At BlackRock itself, Eramian takes pride in the sense of camaraderie that permeates his team. In fact, he views this camaraderie as a key component of the foundation that he has laid for future growth, especially given his team’s function as an intermediary between disparate sectors of the firm.
Serving as an intermediary is, by this point, second nature for Eramian. His career to date has revolved around unlikely intersections, from translating technical concepts to nonexperts to finding roles that unite his diverse personal passions.
“My unique mix of experiences has prepared me for this role,” Eramian admits. Indeed, it is by leaning into that very mix that he has found success.
Day Pitney LLP:
“David identifies and elevates the best in each individual with whom he works, resulting in a dedicated, sophisticated, and high performing legal team. David’s collaborative and integrative approach to our partnership inspires excellence at every turn.”
—Carrie Webb Olson, Partner