James H. Velema

"I take a holistic view of what a clients’ patent portfolio is doing for them to ensure that everything is working and everything has a purpose," says James Velema. Colleagues call him an "exemplary patent lawyer and strategic advisor who supports clients with a deep understanding of both biotech businesses and their technology." They say, "His knowledge goes beyond understanding patent law; he is able to leverage that understanding to advance his clients’ business interests, bring products to market, protect their intellectual property, and develop robust patent portfolios."

Keenly interested in the sciences, clients rely on James to leverage their intellectual property to advance their business interests. The leader of Lathrop GPM’s biotech patent prosecution team, James understands clients’ industries, protects their ideas, examines scientific documents, applies for patent protection, and defends and enforces clients’ patents. He prides himself on providing effective, high-quality and strategic client service while always being responsive.

As a biotech patent attorney, James works with clients from start-ups and emerging biotechnology companies to large academic research institutions and Fortune 500 biotechnology corporations. He combines considerable research experience in industry and academia with a knowledge of intellectual property law to carefully assist clients with patent preparation and prosecution, due diligence, and opinion work.

With a keen understanding of all aspects of a product lifecycle, James supports biotechnology companies with their patent portfolios for:

  • Antibody technologies
  • Biologic therapies
  • Bioprocessing and purification
  • Cell therapy and immunology
  • Gene therapy technologies
  • Oligonucleotide therapeutics including RNAi/siRNA/miRNA
  • Peptide therapeutics
  • Protein purification and bioprocesses
  • Screening assays
  • Transgenic organisms
  • Vaccines

He analyzes the patent landscape relating to antibodies including antibody glycobiology, antibody Fc variants, alternative binding scaffolds, fusion proteins, recombinant enzymes, chimeric antigens and discovery platform technologies.

Throughout his career, James has been part of the Boston biotech industry – which now houses the largest biotech hub in the world. A founding partner of the firm’s Boston office, James knows what it is to be an entrepreneur. He takes pride in working with the life sciences companies. James also served as the IP manager and patent agent at a pharmaceutical company, as a research associate at a biotech company, and as an inventor who holds several U.S. patents – all of which equip him with a solid understanding of clients’ needs.


What inspires you about the practice of law?

I enjoy getting my hands dirty and doing the work. I have a holistic, team-oriented philosophy and I pay attention to the details. I enjoy being involved in every aspect of the process. Nothing is too trivial.

I take pride in my knowledge of the sciences, and I know where things fit and what it should be doing for the client. I work with clients to identify their geographic focus such and Europe or the U.S., and I take a holistic approach to their patent portfolios. Essentially, I enjoy building, constructing, monitoring and maintaining patent portfolios.

Representative Experience

Antibody Therapies

  • Constructed and prosecuted complex patent portfolios for a variety of FDA-approved antibody therapies developed by a global pharmaceutical company and its US collaborator. One of these antibody therapeutics is now the most successful biologic therapy in the world and is responsible for much of the company’s revenue growth.
  • Represented a Belgian-based biotech company from its corporate formation, through several financing rounds and up to and including its eventual NASDAQ listing and the establishment of its Boston-based offices. Drafted, prosecuted and obtained key product patents for the Company’s first FDA-approved antibody product, which is now one of the world’s only approved therapies for the treatment of Myasthenia Gravis, a debilitating neurodegenerative disease.
  • Serves as the strategic patent advisor for several emerging Swiss-based biotechnology companies developing antibody therapeutics for a variety of disorders.
  • Conducted IP due diligence and rendered FTO opinions in connection with a company’s proprietary antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) linker technology and culminating in a strategic investment by a Korean industry conglomerate.

Cell Therapies

  • Represented a new cell therapy company from its spin-out from a leading medical school based in Philadelphia and up to its acquisition by a leading California-based pharma company. Crafted a patent strategy for the company and advised on several licensing deals related to its CAR-T and other T-cell therapies for the treatment of various solid tumor cancers.

Fusion Proteins

  • Advised a global pharmaceutical company in various strategic patent initiatives following its acquisition of a large portfolio of clotting factor products for the treatment of hemophilia and other blood disorders. Responsible for the prosecution of global patent estate relating to complex Fc fusion proteins, one of which was approved by the FDA and EMA in 2023 as a breakthrough treatment for Hemophilia A.

Gene Therapies

  • Advised a global pharmaceutical company in strategic patent issues related to its research initiatives in the field of gene therapy. These activities have culminated in the initiation of first-in-human clinical trials for the treatment of several rare and debilitating neurological disorders.

RNA Technology and Therapeutics

  • Prosecuted and procured the patent estate related to the Nobel-prize winning RNA interference technology of a top, research-oriented medical school.
  • Advised a dedicated research institute in obtaining hundreds of patents related to RNA therapeutics, many of which have resulted in the formation of Boston-area biotech companies dedicated to developing these therapeutics for the treatment of neurodegenerative and rare genetic disorders.


  • Panelist, "Obviousness-Type Double Patenting: Practical Pointers Post-In re Cellect," The Federal Circuit Bar Association 2024 Boston Regional Program, April 5, 2024
  • Panelist, "A Tactical Tool-Kit for Antibody and Epitope Claims: The Latest Strategies for Successfully Claiming Antibody Patents and Epitopes in Europe and the U.S.," C5 Life Sciences IP Summit, October 18, 2022
  • Moderator, "Clinical Trials: Successes & Failures of Nucleic Acid Drugs Discovery & Development," UMASS Medical School RNA Therapeutics Institute, RNA Therapeutics Conference, June 29, 2018
  • Speaker, "CRISPR vs. RNAi - A Guide to Patenting Small RNAs," UMASS Medical School RNA Therapeutics Institute, RNA Therapeutics Conference, June 29, 2018
  • Speaker, "Patenting of Antibodies," presented to the NRC Biotechnology Research Institute, Montreal, Canada, August 30, 2010
  • Speaker, "An Overview of the Antibody Glycosylation Landscape and Patent Strategies," presented to the NRC Institute for Biological Sciences, Ottawa, Canada, May 27, 2010
  • Speaker, "How Secure is your IP?" at TiE Ottawa, Canada Meeting, June 24, 2008


  • Chapter Author, "Biological Polymers for use in Tissue Engineering," in Advances in Biotechnology and Biochemical Engineering, eds. Kaplan et al., 102:187-238. (2006) 

Professional Affiliations

  • American Intellectual Property Law Association
  • Boston Bar Association
  • Boston Intellectual Property Law Association
  • Massachusetts Bar Association


  • Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly, "Go To Intellectual Property Lawyer," 2023
  • Selected among The Best Lawyers in America©, 2023-2024
  • Selected among Managing Intellectual Property magazine’s “IP Stars” for United States (National) Patent Law, 2022
  • Selected among the Intellectual Asset Management (IAM) Patent 1000 – The World’s Leading Patent Professionals, 2016
  • Chambers USA, Massachusetts Intellectual Property, 2015-2016
  • Selected for Massachusetts Super Lawyers “Rising Stars,” 2013-2019
  • Recipient, Postgraduate A Scholarship from the National Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) of Canada, 1999
Photo of James H. Velema
  • Boston

    28 State Street
    Suite 700
    Boston, MA 02109
F: 857.300.4001


Tiana Stewart

Court Memberships

  • Massachusetts
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts
  • U.S. Patent and Trademark Office


Suffolk University Law School, J.D., cum laude, Dean’s List

Tufts University, M.S., Biology/Biotechnology

Queen’s University, B.Sc., Biology
(Honours Program)