Trial lawyer by weekday; outdoorsman by weekend

John Gartman is a nationally acclaimed trial lawyer in Fish & Richardson’s San Diego office. Fish & Richardson is the world’s largest intellectual property law firm, and Gartman was a founding principal of Fish & Richardson’s Silicon Valley office in 1993.

Five years later, he founded the firm’s San Diego office, which has grown to having more than 50 attorneys.

In addition to his law degree, Gartman has an electrical engineering degree from the University of Texas. He was a law clerk to Judge Giles S. Rich on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C., who authored the modern patent law.

Gartman’s national trial practice focuses on high-technology trials. For nearly a decade, he has been one of Microsoft’s lead outside counsel in more than 20 high-profile patent cases, frequently with billion-dollar verdicts on the line.

In 2008, he won the largest patent case in history for Microsoft, a result that was declared one of the nation’s top litigation wins for the year by IP Law and Business. His client list over the years has included Microsoft, Intel, Adobe, DirecTV, Polycom, Suzuki, Callaway Golf, Phil Mickelson and Flow Sports.

Gartman is a member of the Foundation Board of the San Diego Zoo. His family includes his wife, Jill Gartman; his three sons, Michael Austin (19), Steven Mackenzie (15) and John Keenan (1); plus two King Charles Cavalier dogs (Chandler and Texas) and a Maine Coon cat (Gandalf).

What brought you to Solana Beach?

It felt right. Solana Beach retains a lot of its original character, something that has been washed away by development in other communities. It was the right blend of laid-back beach lifestyle and one-of-a-kind restaurants and businesses, all with a timeless sense of community.

What makes Solana Beach special to you?

The people. I love the amount of outdoor activity I see in Solana Beach - whether it’s a group of triathletes taking a morning ocean swim, bicyclists on the PCH (Pacific Coast Highway) or surfers. Being outdoors is very important to me, and it makes me feel good that others in this community are of a like mind.

If you could snap your fingers and have it done, what might you add, subtract or improve in Solana Beach?

Eliminate the morning traffic jam on Lomas Santa Fe.

Who or what inspires you?

I admire the special type of visionary who can walk into a situation and look at it with a completely different perspective, free from tradition, typical solutions or old ideas - and then create something fantastically different, something that in hindsight might seem simple and obvious, but something that others could never have discovered because their heads were cluttered with the old ways of thinking.

Although I never met him, I think Ely Callaway of Callaway Golf must have been this type of person. He brought new approaches to textiles, then brought high-tech to golf equipment (Big Bertha), then brought wine grapes into the desert (Temecula).

If you hosted a dinner party, who (living or deceased) would you invite?

Jill Gartman, my wife

Isaac Newton

Jesus Christ


Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Friedman, New York Times columnist

Leonardo da Vinci

Barack Obama

Albert Einstein


Superman - he’d bring three chairs and stretch the table, making room for 11

What are you currently reading?

“Good to Great” by Jim Collins and “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle.

What is your most prized possession?

I don’t have one. There is nothing that I couldn’t easily lose.

What do you do for fun?

Spend time with my family and do lots of sports, including scuba (soon to be master scuba diver), snowboarding, hiking, running, weights and cycling.

Please describe your greatest accomplishment.

My family.

What is your motto or philosophy of life?

It can be done.