IP Presents Pro Bono Award
By Russell Rawlings
William G. Pagán of Coats Bennett, PLLC in Cary is the 2019 recipient of the North Carolina Bar Association Intellectual Property Law Section’s Outstanding Achievement Pro Bono Award.
The award was presented on Thursday, April 4, in conjunction with the section’s annual meeting and CLE in Charlotte.
“It is a profound honor to be recognized by the North Carolina Bar Association's Intellectual Property Law Section for my pro bono work,” Pagán said. “I am proud to be a member of an organization that applies its substantial influence to promoting those who dedicate themselves to providing legal services to the indigent and to charitable causes.”
Pagán is a remarkably accomplished attorney whose achievements belie the fact that he is only 40 years of age. He is an award-winning patent attorney who has been credited as a named inventor on more than 130 patent applications, earning him the title of Master Inventor over the course of 15 years of developing patentable technologies for IBM.
In 2010 he was named IBM’s RTP Inventor of the Year. He is also a member of the N.C. State University Computer Science Alumni Hall of Fame and has be recognized nationally as a Hispanic Luminary in the STEM disciplines at the Hispanic Engineering National Achievement Awards Conference.
Pagán’s pro bono contributions are equally impressive. In 2018, he served as a pro bono Legal Officer for the NC Wing of the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) of the U.S. Air Force (USAF) Auxiliary, where he holds the grade of Captain.
CAP is a volunteer force that is the official civilian auxiliary of the USAF.
“When conducting missions for the USAF, CAP's members are Airmen operating within the ‘total force’ of the USAF,” Pagán explained. “CAP is congressionally chartered to perform three primary missions: emergency services, aerospace education and youth programs.”
As the NC Wing Legal Officer, Pagán serves as a member of the NC Wing Commander's staff and supervises a team of Assistant Legal Officers (who are also attorneys) in handling the legal affairs of approximately 30 local squadrons statewide for approximately 2,000 members.
“The most important task I fulfill in this role,” Pagán said “is to enforce CAP’s Cadet Protection Policy and to perform legal reviews of investigations into violations of that policy. This role is essential to ensuring that kids are safe when conducting field activities, undergoing training at encampments, and so on.”
With particular respect to intellectual property, Pagán is charged with safeguarding the CAP brand, including all trademarks, logos, designs, emblems and slogans by ensuring that CAP-branded goods (e.g., uniforms, shirts, emblems, badges) are properly procured from trusted vendors, conform to CAP standards, and adhere to CAP business practices and contracts.
CAP Legal Officers are also responsible for advising on legal implications of CAP programs and activities, which may include issues pertaining to: interpretation of laws and regulations; contracts and agreements; insurance; real estate; taxation; investigations; corporate records and organizations; and relations with local agencies.
“CAP Legal Officers,” Pagán said, “render legal advice and opinions regarding CAP activities as requested, assist safety officers in conducting investigations, and advise commanders and investigating officers on processing complaints.
“They also advise commanders on initiation of termination actions and serve as CAP representative at termination appeals hearings as appropriate, and may also serve on membership boards.”
For his contributions to CAP, Pagán has earned two Wing Commander’s Commendations and the Air Force Organizational Excellence Award.
Pagán also took on pro bono work at Coats & Bennett to defend a North Carolina charitable non-profit organization against a copyright troll in 2018, an effort which has extended into this year.
He also proudly serves as an advocate for North Carolina Central University School of Law, from which he received his law degree. Pagán earned his bachelor’s degree from Pace University and holds a master’s degree in computer science from N.C. State University.
The Intellectual Property Law Section has presented pro bono awards to individuals and firms since 1999. Previous recipients of these awards are:
1999 Karen Magri
2001 Richard J. Caira, Jr.
2004 Cynthia B. Rothschild & Kevin A. O'Brien
2005 Michael Boggs and Kilpatrick Stockton
2006 Clint Wimbish and the N.C. IP Group of Kilpatrick Stockton
2007 Laura C. Miller and the N.C. IP Group of Kilpatrick Stockton
2008 Deborah R. Gerhardt
2009 Robert J. Smith and the N.C. IP Group of Kilpatrick Stockton
2010 Dr. Leslie Grab, Dr. Jennifer Giordano-Coltart and the N.C. IP Group of Kilpatrick Stockton
2011 Robert N. Crouse, N. Dean Powell Jr. and the N.C. IP Group of Kilpatrick Stockton
2012 Bryan S. Foster, Mark Prak and the N.C. IP Group of Kilpatrick Stockton
2013 Clara Cottrell and Wood Jackson PLLC
2014 Orla O’Hannaidh
2015 Sarah Nagae and Chestek Legal
2016 Russell Blaise and Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton, LLP
2017 William Cannon
2018 Carl Sanders