As a former IP law firm shareholder and senior corporate lawyer, I know all too well the expense required to start and maintain an IP law practice. Not only are IP lawyers of all levels of experience paid handsomely, but so are the highly skilled paralegals, docket clerks and administrative professionals traditionally required create the infrastructure needed to handle the myriad of details involved in an IP law practice. Of course, this expensive infrastructure must be sustaining, so while a lawyer serves today’s clients, her eye must also be on finding the next client because payroll and rent obligations don’t take a holiday when clients do. This "feed the beast" nature of the IP law practice model was a primary reason that I decided several years ago that I would not again work in the traditional practice of law. How could I? The standard legal service framework required me to build
(Editorial note: This is a repost from this blog over 2 years ago, but the content is more relevant than ever. On January 20, 2010, I am participating in a Yet2.com webinar with Ben DuPont and Jason Lye where we will be sharing our thoughts about marketing technology to "non-traditional" technology buyers, many of whom come to the table because they are adopting Open Innovation into their product and technology development processes. I thought this "classic" post would be a good overview for anyone of my viewpoint for those who find my blog as a result of this event. For regular readers, well, I hope you enjoy this too. I will post a link to the recorded webinar when it is available. ) Open Innovation is unquestionably becoming a “hot” area of focus for U.S. companies, especially in the current economic climate in which businesses are more
The take home message: If your company sells a product that bears a patent number, you need to read this post in its entirety. Much has been written in recent months about false marking lawsuits, most of these in the form of "urgent legal alerts" by law firms that calmly deconstruct the appellate court rulings (this one is illustrative). At the end of the day, these articles likely do not look very "urgent" to business people like yourself because most business people do not engage themselves with patent law generally, let alone something as arcane as false marking. So, even though the subject excites us a patent experts, we really cannot expect you to get excited about something that does not seem to affect your ability to conduct business today. However, if your business is a likely target of a false marking lawsuit it will cost you big bucks almost immediately.
Few things infuriate me more than supposed experts who make statements along the lines of "patents are critical to innovation." I have avoided stating my views widely in this forum because I didn't want to get into a contest of one upmanship with my patent lawyer peers. However, in the last couple of weeks, several pieces of information have hit my radar screen that make this seem like the right time to go public with my views. Let my position be very clear: we create a false dichotomy when saying "innovation is not possible without patents." The issue is much more complex and nuanced than this: in a particular instance, patents may be critical to innovation, but they might also be only slightly important or--likely in the majority of situations--they might be wholly irrelevant to innovation. (I talk more about this in this recent interview in Innovation Management
Many of you who read my blog also follow my Tweet Streams when I am at conferences. Last Fall, I blogged from the Georgia State University Corporate IP Institute. Several people admonished me for not letting them know beforehand that the event was occurring, so this year I am giving everyone advance notice, as well as providing folks with the ability to attend using my discount code. The 2010 GSU Corporate IP Institute will be on November 4-5 at Georgia State University. Unlike most IP-related CLE's, this event generally is light on the case law citations, and heavy on practical tips for those who view IP as a primary form of business value today. (Editorial note: if you are a case law geek, then this is not the event for you--but if you are a caselaw geek, why the heck are you reading this blog anyway?!) The
Last week, I did what I these days rarely ever do: live in the world of corporate and law firm IP lawyers. I traveled to Minneapolis to speak at the Midwest IP Institute and, while there, I was treated to a baseball game in a luxury box, a high end hotel room with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, a fabulous steak dinner and various other fringe benefits that I have not seen recently. It was clear to me that even in these trying economic times when law firms have folded and merged and lawyers have been laid off in droves from all sorts of law firms, many lawyers are still living the high life. I must say, I was somewhat surprised, because I thought business people were getting smarter about how they spent their money these days and, as a result, would not be impressed with fancy law offices and "bling"
Regular readers of this blog know that I strongly believe that IP lawyers can do a whole lot more to better serve the needs of innovation teams. Much of the disconnect between what IP lawyers do and those of their innovation clients can be traced to misalignment of incentives, as well as a structural and cultural impediments that makes it difficult for legal and business experts to communicate and work well together. Last week, along with my good friend Deb Mills-Scofield and Mike Riegsecker of Menasha Packaging, I co-led a workshop on this topic at the 2nd Annual Open Innovation Summit. The workshop was well-attended, and the response was very positive. Also, it appears that my message got through to at least one attendee, who is a prominent innovation consultant. Keven McFarthing of Innovation Fixer wrote this post in which he asks open innovation professionals to not just
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
Anyone who has practiced IP law for a few years can attest to the transformations happening in the US Patent Office over the last year. In my opinion, Director Kappos is more than a breathe of fresh air over his predecessors, he actually knows what he is doing! Also, regardless of what one may think of President Obama's other policies and actions, one cannot question that his leadership is resulting in real attempts at innovation in the arguably previously moribund Patent Office. As a experienced patent practitioner, the last several years have been very demoralizing. I actually made the decision to stop working as a patent prosecutor because, quite simply, I became weary trying to educate junior examiners about the deeply nuanced intricacies of patent law. Worse was trying to explain to clients why their patent application covering an important commercial innovation could not get approved in the Kafkaesque environment of
It is fairly rare for patents to make hit the radar screen of mainstream news outlets but, recently, there has been much space allotted to the issue of patent mis-marking and lawsuits being brought by third parties for "violation" of the law requiring that products cannot be marked with an incorrect patent number. Indeed, the usually substance-free local paper in my mother's Southwest Florida community reported about the flood of patent mis-marking lawsuits. And, it is no wonder that the undoubtedly arcane issue of patent marking has reached the status of "news" in a small-town paper given the huge number of cases currently pending in the federal courts. It seems as if patent marking litigation may be the new business model for trial lawyers who are