Clear your calendars! Bilski was decided just a few weeks ago, and already the schedule is filled with at least 3 Lunch and Learn seminars in the Atlanta area about “what Bilski means to your practice.” If you can’t make these due to your Summer vacation schedule, don’t worry: there are countless blog posts and “Urgent Practice Alerts” available, each of which reviews, abstracts and analyzes the case and its minutiae.
Come on Folks: at the end of the day (and after 70 + obtuse pages of reading), Bilski was a very narrow ruling. We know what it means, and very few inventors will be affected by the holding. This means that very few attorneys should do much more than read the abstracted case, and then move on.
So, why are my IP lawyer peers spending so much time talking about a case that doesn’t matter much to our clients or practices? Maybe it’s because the Supreme Court deigned us with their presence by hearing a patent case. Whoo Hoo! But, that’s like being really interested in Angelina’s new tattoo “that’s only for Brad.” There I said it–fretting over Bilski is akin to Celebrity Stalking, IMHO. In short, for most of us, Bilski is much ado about nothing, but we lawyers seem to think that by talking about something everyone else is talking about, we are somehow smarter and more worthy of recognition from clients and peers.
So, instead of spending time writing missives to clients that will immediately be put in the circular file or preparing for a seminar where you will demonstrate to your peers how well you can read and analyze obtuse Supreme Court cases, how about working to create value for your clients? Instead, I suggest you spend time helping clients address an issue that will be much more likely to effect them and their business bottom line.
I have set out a few examples below, but the point is that IP lawyers need to become more relevant to business. Spending countless hours talking about marginal issues makes us seem marginal to clients. If we don’t become more relevant to clients in this world where business is taking a harder look at IP, we will be left behind talking about case law with each other.
Some examples of ways to create value for clients come to mind as follows:
- Helping them monetize the patents you have charged them handsomely for over the years
- Providing strategic advice about how they can get better patents for less money
- Sitting down and having a heart to heart talk about their business goals and how you and your firm can help make those happen
- Taking a business class so you can communicate better with your clients and understand their goals
If you must talk about Bilski, how about this novel idea: pick up the phone and call your client, if just to say “don’t worry, this Bilski case is not relevant to your busiiness.” But, you’d better not charge them for this call!