Posted by Douglas Sorocco at February 21, 2007 05:27 PM
Want to follow Federal Circuit caselaw but don’t have time to read lengthy case summaries? FedCirc.us has an RSS/e-mail feed for you.
1. Case Review Summaries (provides summaries of the ten most recent case reviews)
E-mail:Click for subscription form
2. Practice alerts (provides all FedCirc.us Practice Alerts)
E-mail: Click for subscription form
Posted by Douglas Sorocco at February 15, 2007 06:29 PM
The master plan for the FedCirc.us site includes several web features designed to deliver patent caselaw information in a more effective manner. The first - the GimmeTen! feature - has quickly become the most popular page on the site...and for good reason. Not familiar with it? Simply bookmark http://10.fedcirc.us and visit regularly. That page always provides concise summaries of the ten most recently posted case reviews. We're confident you'll quickly be hooked.
Today we announce the second feature in our bag of tricks - the travelling FedCirc.us search engine. By following the steps below, you'll be able to search the FedCirc.us site from anywhere on the web.
The best part is the simplicity -- 5 easy steps (4 for most people). Five minutes tops.
1. Make sure you're using either Internet Explorer 7 or Firefox 2.0 as your browser. If you're not, download the latest IE here or Firefox here (both are free). For the record, FedCirc.us is optimized for Firefox.
2. Start your browser.
3. Visit FedCirc.us.
4. Pull down the drop-down search box in the upper right hand corner and select "Add FedCirc.us" (in Firefox) or select "FedCirc.us" with the gold star next to it (in IE, see image at right).
5. Surf the web. Whenever you want to search the site, simply enter a search string in the box in the right hand corner, pull down the list, select FedCirc.us, and hit return. You can do this from any page on the web...and you'll immediately be transported to a listing of search results from the site.
I've quickly gotten used to searching by party name or full case name as I'm reading on the web. This little trick has changed my surfing habits for the better...it's a wonderfully efficient way to find information quickly. We hope you find it useful as well.
As always, if you have any comments or suggestions, please let us know. You can e-mail Matt directly at jmb @ rtipllc.com.
Posted by Douglas Sorocco at July 13, 2006 03:05 PM
Why didn’t Marty ask the question:
Posted by Douglas Sorocco at May 6, 2006 02:11 PM
Gary Odom over at the Patent Prospector must have missed his fibre this morning:
Large high-tech corporate patent infringers turn into crybabies, often pouting before Congress, painting themselves as victims of the patent system, because individual inventors and small patent-owning companies try to make them take licenses for infringing their patents. The crybabies don't bother to mention their regular cross-license patent deals, or knock-down-drag-out fights between corporate competitors, as something to be concerned about. And because of the noise the corporations make, the mainstream press, which are corporate toads, and always hungry for drama, pile in, making the same noises, wailing for patent reform. Congress, itself a humongous corporate toad, listens sympathetically, and makes its own noises, but thankfully does nothing.
You just have to love a good “patent troll” rant on a rainy Saturday afternoon. Gary has a way with words and probably does the best job I have yet seen at framing the issues in an appropriate manner.
If you are interested in learning more about patent trolls and the congressional response, head on over to Promote the Progress. Matt would be too humble to mention it himself, so I will whore it out for him.
Posted by Douglas Sorocco at March 13, 2006 09:16 AM
Blawg Review readers may be surprised to learn that hosts of the Review are actually required to play by a few rules. There's the silly rule about the title of the actual post (no creativity allowed!), and then there's this:
"The host shall be at liberty to present the submission, or not, or make another presentation of the post as seems appropriate to the host for that Blawg Review, with unfettered discretion."
We're taking that rule to heart as we host this 48th Edition of Blawg Review. "Unfettered discretion" - definitely words we like.
In a nutshell - we're sick of carnivals.
Not all carnivals, mind you - just the long drawn out boring ones that really don't offer anything of value. We think that several popular carnivals, including Blawg Review, have become bloated, link-whore-optimized versions of the original vision for what a carnival should be - an edited review of relevant blog posts presented in a manner that contributes to thought-provoking conversation.
Does anyone actually click through all 100 links found in a typical carnival post? Of course you don't. If you are anything like us, you click through the first couple of links and then wander off to get more coffee, wax the car or perhaps even get some work done. Nahh... waxing the car is way more important. Who wants to read a bloated set of postings that really don't rise to being the cream of the crop... not us, and we think none of you want to either.
Remember the carnival experience of your youth? Your parents only took you to the travelling extravaganza when you were good. If you went to the carnival every week as a kid... you were a carnie. And if you were a carnie, I assure you that the carnival would lose some of it "specialness" - it wouldn't be about the lions, tigers and bears - nope, it would be about the whining children, the drunken sailors and the bearded lady who won't quit grabbing your behind.
So - we have decided a little Blawg Review coup is in order -- we are rebelling -- we are rethinking the format of the Blawg Review. Instead of regurgitating a long string of links and quotes, we each picked one post that resonated - and it is this one post each that you will find here under the banner of Blawg Review. Yes, we know this rethinking (and retinkering) raises the possibility that we'll never again be able to post to Blawg Review or even host it, but in the interest of all who follow the Review, it is a chance we're willing to take.
With that introduction, we'll get on with the show...so here it is...Blawg Review, Rethink(IP) style...
Doug's Favorite Post:
Bruce MacEwen's blog, "Adam Smith, Esq.", should be the first thing every lawyer reads each morning! Now, how is that for an opening statement - Bruce is going to have a hard time living up to that introduction, but I have no doubt that he will be able.
While Bruce does have a propensity to dwell on the inner workings of the monster firms out there, I am consistently able to pull pieces of useful information out of his posts that benefit my medium sized boutique firm. Whether it is dealing with associates, hiring pressures or client service - Bruce never fails to provide relevant useful information that is brimming with insight.
I am not certain whether Bruce intends for his posts to be so relevant to our segment of the legal services industry, but I have a sneaking suspicion that he keeps us small fish in mind when hobnobbing with the legal illuminatti of the AmLaw 100.
This past week Bruce tackles the question of firm marketing efforts and comes to the conclusion that many of the efforts result in absolutely no return on investment.
"What Differentiates Our Firm Is..." [Nothing] To badly paraphrase Bruce, does your marketing drive new sales or is it merely a “shiny mess of nothingness” — i.e. do your firm’s marketing activities sound like the following:
All the activities the reader cites contribute to "name recognition" for a law firm, but the actual "sale" (read: engagements to handle a piece of litigation, a corporate transaction, a tax problem, etc.) only occurs when the client has the precise need, i.e., is at the point of pain. No one in the history of the world ever woke up and said, "What I need today is to buy myself a really good contract...."
Keep on keeping on Bruce! I learn something new in every post!
Steve's Favorite Post:
Josh Cohen at the Multiple Mentality blog on "Obeying the law".
I've actually never see the "Multiple Mentality" blog before this weekend. I'm not even sure it is a law blog...but of the posts I read (and I read every single one of them), other than the two snagged by Matt/Doug, this one made me go Hmm.... Not that there aren't some great posts in the other pile (found over at Blawgr), but this one struck me as very interesting.
I won't ruin the post for you, but it involves this video:
We don't often see the youth of America questioning the law in a constructive way. Rather than just refusing to follow it, they sought to prove its lunacy. Bravo! Bravo!
Matt's Favorite Post:
My criteria in reviewing posts this week was simple: Did it make me think? Truth be told...not many of the submissions did. I should have known, though, that the submission from Blog Diva Denise Howell would fit the bill.
Denise revisited the familiar topic of the dangers, from an employers point-of-view, associated with employee blogging. Sure there's the possibility of leaking confidential information and a host of other potential ills, but Denise takes a fresh angle on the problem, and goes out on a limb in the process. Of all the various communication tools available to employees, Denise asserts that "blogging may actually be the least risky and most innocuous from a corporate risk management standpoint."
Thanks, Denise, for stepping out on the limb and making me think.
So that is it folks! Once again, if you want all the other links — head on over to Blawgr (archived link to the post). Next weeks Blawg Review will be hosted by Jim Calloway over at the Law Practice Tips Blog. It’s good to see another Okie taking the reins of Blawg Review next week — you never know, Jim might rethink the whole carnival format further – Okies have a way of doing that every now and then.
Posted by Stephen M. Nipper at January 5, 2006 10:24 AM
Posting on our Rethink(IP) blog has been light. One of us changing firms, one of us preparing to be a first time father, all of us dealing with the Holidays and work...we have lots of excuses.
One of our excuses is that we are spending more and more time working over the various side projects we have (which means less time for blogging). Through these "projects," we hope to build a legal community that will help us achieve our goal of bringing Web 2.0 content to Web 1.0 attorneys.
That being said, one of our "projects" is about to go live. We are currently beta testing a forum/bulletin board which we have high hopes for. The goal of the forum is to create an on-line, collaborative discussion community for our readers, legal bloggers and attorneys in general.
If you are interested in helping us populate the forums with an initial set of forum topics and threads, please drop me a line (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I'll get you set up. Thanks in advance.
Posted by J Matthew Buchanan at December 20, 2005 08:49 AM
Remember my story about the new IBM (Lenovo) X41 Tablet that I bought? I relayed the story in last week's post to The World Really is Flat series. Here's the punch-line -- the computer, once shipped, travelled from Shanghai, China to my front door in Perrysburg, OH in one day. How's that for a flat world?
I related that example as a personal experience that allowed me to realize that the world really is becoming flat. After I had that experience, I saw the flat world in everything around me.
So all is good, right? There's plenty of opportunity and no problems in this new flat world, right?
As Lee Corso would say, "not so fast, my friend."
There are plenty of problems in the flat world. Indeed, there are plenty of new problems. The rest of my X41 story illustrates this point...
So there I am, drooling over my brand new X41 Tablet. As I said before, I have zero patience when new tech toys arrive. I tore into the box immediately, threw the instruction manual aside, and began setting up the computer. The out-of-box experience was amazing...the computer is beautiful to look at, and powered up perfectly with a simple plugging in. Ready to roll. The desktop wasn't overly cluttered with useless freebies (AOL, etc.) and the introduction software from IBM/Lenovo did a fine job of introducing the amazing utilities provided with the computer.
So now I'm ready to make it mine. I gathered the discs for my must-have software packages, and prepared for an afternoon of installations. First up, Microsoft Office 2003...just place the CD in the...hey, wait a minute...where's the CD drive? I must have missed it in the box....
Nope. No CD drive to be found (my one complaint about the X41 is the lack of an internal CD drive...but the external drive is so svelte, that I really don't even consider it a complaint anymore).
I checked the packing list...no mention of the CD drive. It's an "accessory" that costs extra. I knew I had ordered it and checked my invoice to make sure. Yep...it was ordered.
I logged into the Lenovo customer service site and checked my order. Sure enough, it was split. The CD drive was shipped separately. OK, I can wait another day as it travels from China to Perrysburg. (Remember...the world is flat and the shipment takes only a day....)
Sadly, that's just the beginning. I tracked that package for the next two weeks. It was sidelined in customs by the FDA (yes, the FDA) on "bird flu concerns" according to the UPS customer service representative. Compare the tracking results for this package (at left) with those of the computer (in the first The World Really is Flat post).
What an amazing contrast.
The CD drive finally arrived. I was somewhat hesitant to touch it, considering the whole bird flu thing. I quickly got over that, though, and finished the setup...two weeks later.
The FDA/bird flu "problem" completely robbed me of the amazing experience I had after seeing the computer shipped from China to Perrysburg in a day. I was left with a sense of frustration and angst. I love the computer...but having to wait two weeks to make it mine really ticked me off.
The lesson I took away from the experience is this. The flat world brings new opportunities and new problems. Bird Flu? Customs delays on computer equipment by the FDA? Crikey. Who in the world expected that? Not me.
While the flattened world presents plenty of new opportunities, it also presents new challenges and new problems. As businesses establish new business relationships without regard (or with less regard) to geographical boundaries, plenty of issues must be addressed. Lenovo is obviously taking advantage of the opportunities presented by the flattened world. Should they have been aware of this problem..and addressed it? Or do old, non-flat-world attitudes still reign - "Hey, we shipped it....you'll just have to wait..."
I didn't contact Lenovo about the problem (I guess I censored myself with that attitude...), so I'm not sure how they would have responded.
New problems will begin to reveal themselves as people explore the new opportunities presented by the flat world. Being an optimist, I view new problems as an opportunity for new solutions...which, of course, bring even more opportunity...
So, on second thought, maybe all is good in this new flat world...
Posted by J Matthew Buchanan at December 12, 2005 07:07 AM
Recognition of a major change has to be, of course, the first step in taking advantage of it. Often times, you read or hear about a major change in your world but, without personal experience that allows you to recognize the change as real, you wonder if it’s actually happening or if certain people just think that it’s happening. You may even grow a bit cynical and start to believe that certain people just hope that the change is happening.
That’s where I started with the concept of the flat world. I had heard about it and read about it, but had no personal experience that allowed me to truly recognize that the change was in process. As a result, I had little interest in the concept and, perhaps, a little disbelief.
Then, out of nowhere, a brick hit me in the head and suddenly I realized that major change was indeed underway. After that, I saw the flat world in everything around me, much like you seem to hear a particular word more often after actually learning its meaning.
Here’s the story.
I had ordered a new ThinkPad X41 TabletPC (which, by the way, is the best computer I have ever owned…despite a few hard drive issues). I’m like a kid on Christmas morning when I have a new tech toy on order…I just can’t wait. I checked the status of the order each morning and was disappointed to learn that there was about a two week backorder. Rats.
Finally, I was rewarded one morning when I received an e-mail telling me that my order had been shipped and that I could track it on the UPS web site. Great, I thought…we’re entering stage two.
I immediately clicked the tracking link and was excited to see that the package was ready for shipment, straight from
Here’s the brick. The next morning, UPS.com told me that the package was here and ready for delivery. Holy
That’s right. The computer travelled from
Now, I know there's an international date line in there somewhere, and at least one of my fellow rethinkers believes there is funny business in the whole package tracking thing, but, no matter, the effect was the same -- the computer arrived one day after I was told it was shipped. Very cool.
(imagine the effect had Lenovo/IBM been able to get rid of the two week backorder!)
I tore into the package even before the man in the brown shorts left. As I tossed the instruction manual aside, the realization hit me -- the world really is flat. The day before, a Chinese worker had held the computer in his hands as he packed it for shipment. Now I've got it and it's ready for business.
Suddenly I believed that the flattening of the world…the change…was indeed in process. I couldn’t ignore it anymore because this one simple example had given me the personal experience that allowed me to realize that.
I wondered about the reason for my initial disinterest and disbelief -- this is the only rational explanation I can offer. I was born and raised in the American Midwest, where manufacturing is King. I suspect that my initial disinterest in the change to a flat world was at least partially due to a knee-jerk reaction that a lot of people have in these parts of the country. The reaction is based purely on fear. Fear of outsourcing, off-shoring and the loss of manufacturing jobs, good manufacturing jobs.
But the computer experience had changed something because the knee-jerk reaction seemed to be gone. Now I had the experience I needed to believe in the change, which, of course, gave me the desire to figure out how to plan for and take advantage of it.
Posted by Douglas Sorocco at December 11, 2005 10:09 PM
I like to do carpentry and woodworking – mainly old house rehab stuff but occasionally I am inspired to make a piece of furniture.
A common adage is “measure twice, cut once” and it is one that while I try to remember it, I often forget and have to recut a piece of lumber. Acting without planning can definitely be expensive.
It is also a good piece of advice when thinking about legal services and fees… measure your fees twice and cut them once. What this means to me is that you should always look at or measure a bill, invoice or statement twice — (once as the attorney and once as the client) — and then make a cut of the bill once (i.e. do what is fair to both the attorney and as the client).
Measure twice, cut once. Good advice – whether it is legal services or carpentry.
Happy holidays everyone!
Posted by J Matthew Buchanan at December 6, 2005 10:09 PM
There has been a lot of buzz over the last few months about the so-called "flat" world. If you think I'm referring to naysayers of Christopher Columbus, you've got some homework to do. But, if you know what I mean, you'll likely be interested in a series of forthcoming posts on Rethink(IP).
Over the summer, each of us quickly devoured Thomas Friedman's book, The World is Flat. Since then, we've had numerous back-channel discussions on the concept of a flat world and its effect on the practice. Our conclusion -- the world really is flat. In fact, we think it has been permanently flattened and the practice of intellectual property law will forever change as this new world is put to work.
The series, so far, includes three posts and will appear over the next week or so. The first post describes a recent experience of mine that showed me just how flat the world is...and highlighted some new problems and challenges of doing business in the flat world. The second post details a theory of mine -- the flatter the world gets, the more important the fundamentals become (you'll have to read it to understand...). The final post details the impact that we believe the flat world will have on the practice of intellectual property law.
We hope you enjoy the series and welcome any comments you have on the posts. If you're still thinking of Christopher Columbus, I suggest a visit to Amazon.
Posted by Douglas Sorocco at November 24, 2005 12:02 PM
I really hope that the young associate who writes the BigLaw Associate is real and not some pseudo-writing experiment like Anonymous Lawyer. The posts over at BigLaw crack me up and hopefully offer some unintentional glimpses into some biglaw practices.
For example, BigLaw’s newest post is entitled “A New Plan” and is the most recent in a series of angst ridden posts dealing with whether he/she/it/they should leave the biglaw firm where they are currently employed.
The whole post is interesting for the fact that he/she/it/they have finally succombed to the fact that they will never leave biglaw and he/she/it/they are justifying the reason for not leaving (although, look back a few posts for what I believe are the real reasons – money, awe from peers, and “biglaw prestige”)
What I found most striking in the post is this statement regarding the senior attorney she is assigned to:
… I have come to the conclusion that perhaps my problem is not the Firm, but Senior (and myself to a large extent). We have a totally dysfunctional working relationship. Senior is a rainmaker and knows how to keep his clients happy; not so much with quality work (although he is undeniably VERY smart), as with backslapping, belly laughing locker room humour.
What? Say again? Hello?
I don’t think my definition of rainmaker would/should/could be modified with the statement “not so much [because] of quality work”… I wonder if their clients feel the same way.
Where I come from (all at once … “Oooooooook – la – homa, where the wind comes sweeping down the plain….” [MP3]), modifying the term rainmaker in such a manner results in that person simply being a bullshitter – someone with a good handshake but nothing of any worth to the client.
Is this the definition of rainmaker that biglaw is teaching its associates and, if so, is it any wonder why clients are demanding change in how legal services are to be delivered? What happened to client service, attention to detail, quality work and delivery of innovative, helpful and useful counsel?
If this is the trend – maybe instead of Chief Marketing Officers at biglaw, they should just hire Chief Bullshitters. It would certainly be easier for recruiters to find them — you don’t really need any particular qualifications and if it is big enough of a trend, some enterprising CLE provider will start teaching “Chief Bullshitter Bootcamps” for the forward thinking law office.
I really hope BigLaw Associate is for real… it bodes well for us “little guys”, I think.
Posted by J Matthew Buchanan at October 31, 2005 12:08 PM
BLA notes “…it looks to me like BigLaw is in a deepening crisis. … I keep hearing the same story: associate morale at a critical low with associates leaving at an alarming rate.”
I don’t think the so-called crisis is any worse than before. Associate morale is always low…and they’re always leaving at an “alarming” rate.
After reading BLA’s observation, I was reminded of some of the best career advice I have ever been given. The conversation went like this:
“Dude, never, ever forget, you’re just an FBU…”
an FBU? (my innocent reply and inquiry)
“Yeah, a Fungible Billing Unit.”
The advice came from a law school professor who, in a previous life, was a BigLaw partner. He was giving me advice as a former BigLaw partner, not so much as a professor. He knew. He had been under the tent, so to speak. (As an aside, the “dude” part of the quote is real)
I didn’t appreciate it at the time. Now I do. Here’s the take I have on that advice now:
Associates are billing units
We all know that.
But, don’t forget the F!
Associates are also fungible.
Yep, that’s right, big firms view BLA’s as interchangeable. Did you ever wonder why they admit 20, 30, even 50 new associates every year? It’s because they’re building the base of the triangle behind the thinning-out that is occurring at higher levels…
If the thinning-out doesn’t occur, the model fails.
They expect you to leave. They want you to leave. They need you to leave.
Posted by Douglas Sorocco at October 30, 2005 12:37 PM
I guess I am in a branding mood these days.
John rants about a recent airplane experience where an executive sitting next to him didn't exactly leave a good impression of the executive's company. It's a funny read for anyone who travels on business fairly often, with the "punchline" being:
The only thing I could think about was my loss of respect for the Fortune 500 Company she worked for. The company had just lost a potential customer because of one executive’s unrelated actions.
John's post reminded me of a recent experience I had that was eerily similar. It is so similar, it makes you wonder how many times such "employee brands" actively work against the "corporate brand".
So, onto my experience: I was traveling out east to a business meeting a day early and so I was traveling "lawyer incognito" -- i.e. I was in jeans and a sportshirt.
It turned out the person next to me was a young associate lawyer with a BigLaw firm -- her briefcase was plastered with the firm logo, her legal pads were festooned with the firm logo, and she was writing with a firm logo'd pen. It was almost like she was a pro athlete with a sponsorship deal.
She was also sick -- coughing, sneezing and generally moaning about her predicament. I thought I would be nice (Okie friendliness) and offer her a couple of tissues I had in my Booq bag (remember, I was traveling incognito) as well as a couple of cough drops.
She wasn't all that impressed.
In fact, she shrieked at me that she would never accept anything "of the kind I was offering" from someone like me. Everyone sitting around us heard her, the flight attendants heard her and, more importantly, the general counsel of a Fortune 100 company heard her.
So, she suffered through the flight coughing and sneezing on everyone -- and no, she didn't cover her mouth when she coughed.
After getting into Baltimore, the general counsel walked up to me and commented about her rude behavior. I remarked that "life is too short" to worry about it but that I would be mortified to have her as an employee in my firm. The GC asked me if I was a lawyer and laughed when I mentioned that I was and that I was the hiring partner for my firm. We ended up trading business cards and it may turn out that we can do business with one another. If not, at least I met an interesting person to have dinner with when I am out east.
As we were walking through the airport, the GC remarked to me that he would be sure to "blackball" the young lawyer's firm from ever doing any work for him. I asked him why, afterall the young lawyer was sick, probably stressed and the firm shouldn't be held to blame for her poor attitude.
The GC's response: "everything she does reflects on the abilities, culture and ethos of her firm. You don't engage the marketing materials, you engage the people. If she is the type of person the firm thinks is 'top notch,' the firm doesn't have a clue."
Wow. His comments will make me reevaluate whether or not to buy logo'd merchandise for our firm in the future - but, more importantly, they will be in the forefront of my brain when making hiring decisions in the future.
Our people are our "brand" - I know what branding message I want to be sending, and it isn't what we saw on that flight. Are your employees/associates/team members getting you blackballed?
Posted by Douglas Sorocco at October 29, 2005 02:54 PM
Maybe it is just my city. Or maybe it is just me, finally noticing something that has been happening all along. But it looks to me like BigLaw is in a deepening crisis. When I speak to other BigLaw associates from around town I keep hearing the same story: associate morale at a critical low with associates leaving at an alarming rate. Not alarming for me, of course: I personally don't care. But, it should be alarming to partners because associates are leaving when they are finally getting good at their jobs, and when the firms' investment in them should start to pay off.
When will the general public and members of the legal profession look at individuals in BigLaw the same way they look at those smokers in the glass cages at the airport?You know that look -- sadness, bemusement and pity.
What a difference a day makes. My wife and I were in San Francisco the weekend that Katrina began to approach New Orleans. We were taking a vacation between the end of my federal clerkship and the start of a new job in September. As we were watching the news on Sunday before the hurricane hit, I thought that Monica and I could just stay on the west coast where I could find some temporary work if New Orleans suffered a direct hit. Apart from my job, we had nothing that required us to be in New Orleans and, if the storm hit, I had good reason to think that the firm wouldn't need me back anytime soon.
After sleeping surprisingly well on Sunday night, I called home to check in early Monday morning. The phone was answered by my tearful mother who told me that my cousin and her boys had been in a wreck the night before, and that my cousin had been killed. A drunk driver evacuating from New Orleans ran a stoplight and broadsided her van. The boys were in the hospital. I immediately went numb, because I knew that my cousin wanted Monica and I to take care of the boys (11 and 7) if anything ever happened to her. Monica and I decided to cut our trip short and immediately headed home.
Fast forward 2 months, we now have custody of the two boys--great kids--and we are living with my parents until we can return to New Orleans. To make matters somewhat more difficult, I lost my job and I have had to start my own practice in a market now saturated with attorneys that are also looking for work.
Despite my efforts of of the last month, I have not been able to locate any regular work. I am now looking for contracting work that can be conducted here in Gonzales, Louisiana. My ability to travel is limited, as my new family is adjusting to school schedules and bed times. I am sharing office space and have access to all the necessary tools to work remotely. Accordingly, I would love to work with a lawyer/firm or two that can provide me steady contract work for the next 2 to 6 months, preferably about 20 to 30 hours per week, to supplement my small case load.
I am a capable researcher and writer and have clerked for a year in federal district court. I also have an engineering degree and four years experience as an environmental consultant. If I might be able to help you, please email me at alrobert (at) gmail.com or give me a call at 504-615-5352. My resume, writing samples, and references are all available upon request.
Can you help Al out?
I can personally vouch for Al's keen intellect and client-driven outlook toward legal services -- more importantly, Al's spirit and compassion would be of benefit to any project you may have.
Posted by J Matthew Buchanan at October 27, 2005 09:44 AM
We told you Bill Meade “gets it.”
Bill is a fascinating individual who is truly passionate about the development and management of intellectual property. We consider ourselves lucky to have met him and are looking forward to building on our relationship.
Bill provided us with the Proactive Invention Management article last week — I bet I’ve read it ten times. His description of proactive invention management as “a war with two fronts” is dead on. Unfortunately, many organizations don’t recognize the need to deal with both fronts, or, if they do recognize the need, they choose to fight the war only along the first front — the one between the inventors and the IP department. This choice might be made for any of several reasons, not the least of which is budgetary in nature.
The mantra of these single-front organizations: Increase disclosures! Increase disclosures! Increase disclosures!
Battling that front without addressing the second front — the one of IP capacity — is trouble in the wings. This is particularly true if you begin to actually win the battle on the first front. All of a sudden, the organization finds itself with “full access to the genius of the organization,” (Bill’s wonderful language) only to learn that it can’t efficiently process the genius….and valuable intellectual property is lost.
The answer? As Bill states so aptly – you need to rethink IP business processes and IP business model management.
Now you can see why we’ve grown so fond of Bill. Not only does he “get it,” but he’s courageous enough to “rethink it.” Yep, he’s a rethinker, and we love rethinkers.
What can we add to Bill’s article (and theory)? Simply this — outside patent counsel can help an organization fight the war on the second front.
No, I’m not talking about opening the billables floodgate and adding a massive amount of capacity to the IP department. That would simply be throwing money at the problem.
I’m talking about help with the rethinking part.
We’ll elaborate more on this in future posts. For now, consider the following:
- A rethinker’s firm will help you cast a critical eye on your processes…and is courageous enough to return the favor and continually reevaluate its own processes.
- A rethinker’s firm will help you implement changes to your processes…and will follow-through on proposed changes to its processes.
- A rethinker’s firm will offer ideas on how to increase the efficiency of the relationship.
- A rethinker’s firm will help you build specialization…and will spend some of its own money in the process.
- A rethinker’s firm will offer technology solutions that actually improve your processes, not just the latest, must-have, keeping-up-with-the-Jones & Co.– technology.
In short, a rethinker’s firm will help you with the rethinking.
Look for more on this topic in the future, and more from Bill as well.
Posted by Douglas Sorocco at September 23, 2005 10:40 PM
How does Trader Joe's define itself? A former vice president of operations for the chain put it this way: "It's a mix of supermarket, grocery store, and international gourmet shop with wholesale club pricing." Industry analysts and various other retail experts generally classify Trader Joe's as a specialty retailer or niche marketer. But which niche? Basically, the chain's simple but brilliant marketing strategy is to take a little from each concept and offer great products at fantastic prices. There really are no complex marketing strategies--just good solid execution based on giving consumers something different.
What do you do differently? How do you make a difference to your clients? What about your firm's story - what makes it different from every other?
Who are your clients? Who are your best clients?
When I work with new clients, I often encounter the following request: I want more clients. My response is a question: What kind of clients do you want? The (wrong) answer I most often get: It doesnt matter as long as they have money, we get a little bit of everyone in here.The right answer takes a little more thought.When you really get to know your clients, you will find a small percentage account for most of your profits. In fact, it is common for less than 20% of your clients to account for nearly all of your profits. The big problem? Most businesses have no idea who those perfect clients are!
Posted by Stephen M. Nipper at September 14, 2005 12:51 PM
If you enjoy Rethink(IP)...you'll enjoy this article from the current (August 2005) IP Today: LITIGATORS CORNER: Who Says Contingent Fee Lawyers Are the Biggest Moneymakers? [PDF]
No wonder large companies think litigation is too expensive. Their own need to hire big firms, coupled with runaway legal fees, is the largest part of their problem. A defendant that shoots itself in the foot shouldnt blame someone else for its own stupidity. Their corporate mentality, which equates size and expense to quality, is the main cause.
Posted by Stephen M. Nipper at September 7, 2005 10:46 AMIf you aren't familiar with The TechnoLawyer Community...you should be. TechnoLawyer provides a number of great newsletters, and a forum where "technolawyers" can ask one another questions about technology (i.e., "has anyone every used _______ and what did you think about it?"). It is an excellent resource for all tech attorneys, and has an archive which I have searched from time to time with questions (what scanner to purchase, whether I should upgrade to the latest version of __________, etc.). The best part? It is free. Try it, if you don't agree you can easily unsubscribe.
Over the past year I have been writing a newsletter for TechnoLawyer called IP Memes. IP Memes is a weekly newsletter that explores emerging technology-related intellectual property issues or memes as we call them. Think of it as your coal-mine canary for intellectual property issues.
What excites me is the fact that fellow rethinkers Doug and Matt have agreed to join me as co-authors (starting with the September 26th issue). The IP Memes newsletter is subscription only...so, if you want to read it, you better subscribe today!
Posted by Douglas Sorocco at August 31, 2005 09:33 PM
If FedEx can take on the federal government's role as the mail delivery specialist, why can't a private commercial enterprise take on the role of patent office?
I'll be blogging on this some more over the next couple of weeks - but my first question to y'all out there, why not?
If Congress can't improve the process/quality by allowing the PTO to keep the user fees and use it to improve quality and service, let's innovate around them.
So - how do we create PTOEx?
Posted by Douglas Sorocco at August 28, 2005 08:08 PM
...when you start turning your products into commodities, you start treating your customers like commodities.Patent preparation isn't a commodity, no matter what some folks think. When preparation and prosecution becomes a loss leader, so do your clients.
Posted by Douglas Sorocco at August 26, 2005 11:27 PM
Thank you. Thank you for the response to our providing the United States Patent and Trademark information, news and notices via email. It has been great!
One of the major "complaints" that we have received is that we were only providing the information via RSS. RSS is really the information delivery option of the future and we will be pointing the way to some tutorials in the future, but in the interim - give the people want they want.
So - below is an email signup application. Simply put in your email address and you will receive all USPTO updates via email.
We value your privacy, just like we value our own. We will never sell the names of the folks that sign up - so have no fear. We will not add to your spam burden.
So, sign up and enjoy. And please keep the feedback coming - it really helps us to know what you need and want.
Posted by Douglas Sorocco at August 19, 2005 04:13 PM
Wow - now here is a little rethinking payback...
- Beyond Bullet Points on Trial: according to the Fortune magazine article, "Stark Choices at the First Vioxx Trial", two lawyers used PowerPoint in "starkly" different ways in a heavily-publicized trial that began Thursday in Texas. In the first of many trials involving the prescription drug Vioxx, plaintiff Carol Ernst is suing Merck and Co. over the death of her husband Bob Ernst in 2001.
- Jury Finds Merck Liable - $253 Million Judgment: A Texas jury found pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co. liable Friday for the death of a man who took the once-popular painkiller Vioxx, awarding his widow $253.4 million in damages in the first of thousands of lawsuits pending across the country.
I bet Cliff Atkinson starts doing a lot more consulting on jury trial prep. I know some patent prosecutors/lecturers who could use some help as well. Explaining concepts isn't confined to litigators.
Posted by J Matthew Buchanan at August 16, 2005 10:39 AM
I’ll take it a step further – in the right context, they mark those who believe they’re indispensable (or have a fear that they’re completely dispensable).
Start looking. You’ll see them.
Try this thought experiment — take Doug’s Blackberry-toting important hall-walkers and congressional staffers out of the Capitol building and put them on vacation in a beautiful locale with their family.
In your mind, do they still have their Blackberries? Are they using them? How frequently? What do their kids’ faces look like as they use them?
Ok, you can stop. I’ll give you the answers: Yes, yes, very, upset.
I’ll submit this anecdote as proof-
At the end of a recent trip, My wife and I were able to take our boys to Disneyland in California. We had two days at the park with our two young sons. No work. No blogging. Just Mickey Mouse, cotton candy, and lots of smiles.
I had my cell phone, but it was tucked safely away in one of the backpacks. Never used it.
I couldn’t help noticing, though, that many other people weren’t able to cut the cord. I didn’t notice many Blackberries (this is the Hollywood set, mind you, and those Blackberries popular with the DC set are so utilitarian), but I must have seen over a hundred people with earphones connected to their cell phone, which was typically stuffed into a fanny pack or something similar (don’t even get me started on those things).
And they were actually using them!
Here’s one example. We were waiting in line for the Buzz Lightyear ride (my oldest son’s favorite, by the way). As we patiently walked the maze, we encountered the same people over and over again (everyone knows how this works). This one poor guy was with his family as well (wife, two kids). Like me, he was on sherpa duty (stroller in tow, two backpacks, cameras, etc.). But he also had a wire dangling from his ear. On one of our passes, I traced the wire to his backpack. By the time I met him on the next pass, he had retrieved his cell phone — a Treo 650 — and was holding a conversation about an e-mail he had just received. He assured the other party to the conversation that he would “chew on that” and promised to “shoot something back in an hour or so.”
Think about the ridiculousness of this situation. He must have just gotten an e-mail and had called (or took a call from) the sender to tell them that he would respond to the e-mail. Man, this guy must be indispensable!
(what odds will you give me that he’s a lawyer?)
Meanwhile, the sun shone and his wife struggled to entertain their obviously disappointed kids.
As a father, I briefly felt bad for the guy. He sacrificed time with his family — which is so hard to get these days — and committed to sacrificing even more (remember, he’s got some chewing to do and an e-mail to write, all in the next hour). I also felt bad for him as a fellow sherpa. “Dude, if you’re gonna sacrifice time with the fam, at least make it easy on yourself — shell out the bucks for the wireless headset.”
Then I stopped thinking about it – I had to get back to my business of the day. My oldest was teaching me how to aim the blasters on the Buzz ride. There’s this pointer thingy, and you have to….
Posted by Stephen M. Nipper at June 21, 2005 12:01 AM
A couple of months ago, co-rethinker Matt flew out to Boise to put on a CLE for the Idaho State Bar's Intellectual Property Law Section on patent reform. He's an excellent speaker and I was glad to have him out for the day.
Matt arrived late at night, did the CLE first thing in the morning and was back on a plane to Toledo by mid-afternoon. On the way back to the airport I took a quick detour to the top of "TableRock"... a plateau that overlooks the city.
The entire drive up there Matt's eyes were glued to the foothills (coming from the flat Midwest they were "mountains"). He was really impressed, in awe over the scenery, snapping pictures left and right. To him it was all new.
That is what he saw...what did I see?
At first, nothing. Same old scenery. But his excitement was contagious. I suddenly saw the same things...mountains, foothills, trees....things that I take for granted. I see them every day, but didn't necessarily SEE them every day.
So my question for you is...what are your mountains? The mountains you see everyday, but don't SEE? Is it your spouse? Your kids? Your staff?
My challenge to you...open your eyes today and appreciate that which you often overlook today.
Posted by Douglas Sorocco at June 16, 2005 01:30 PM
I ran across a great quote the other day:
Fix the holes in the bucket first, and then worry about how to add more water!
The reason I like the quote is that it made me think. I literally stopped and spent some time thinking about the quote and how it applied to my practice and intellectual property law in general.
Does anyone ever fix the bucket first? I don’t think so.
A couple of examples:
Patent reform: no one is talking about improving the quality, consistency, training and working conditions at the patent office.
IP practice: most attorneys don’t work to strengthen their existing client relationships, they look for the next bigger, better client – that next notch on their belt.
IP portfolios: most companies don’t look at their portfolios with an eye toward plugging holes or covering the white space – most don’t align their IP with their business plan.
I am sure there are others, but these are the main ones that immediately hit me.
What “holes” do y’all see out there?
Posted by Stephen M. Nipper at June 8, 2005 10:21 PM
Over the weekend, I caught an episode of "Behind The Music" on the rock group Guns 'N Roses. My wife, at the time, commented that the band's lead singer, Axl Rose, was clearly being villanized. I had to agree. What do you expect when the only ones interviewed for the rockumentary were the other members of the band (I presume that Axl declined to be interviewed).
So what (according to the other band members) lead to the death of the band?
Control. Control? Yes, according to the other members, Axl changed over time, becoming more and more controlling, more and more demanding. Axl became crazy, they said....and they all left the band so as to not have to deal with Axl anymore.
I have a different take. Axl was a rethinker. He had rethunk(?) the band...wanted to make them bigger, better, stronger...and the band revolted.
They were a group of party animals. Your typical drugs, sex and rock and roll band. Heavy drinkers, addicted to drugs, their music reflected that...they loved to rock it out. Axl appears to have been the one who got his act together. He realized that something needed to change...and sought to reinvent the band.
And the rest of the band was pissed....how dare he want to improve the band, how dare he suggest they get their acts together, how dare he want to do what fans (clients) want (produce "hits"), how dare he not do it the old way...the fun way. "We just want to rock!"
So. Where do you stand? For you, is it about the fans or is it about the music? Are you willing to rethink the band if they won't change...if they aren't willing to produce the music fans want?
Sometimes someone has to get their act together and rethink the band.
Posted by Douglas Sorocco at June 1, 2005 06:19 PM
Interesting quote over at the A VC blog:
I am not joking about this. A VC investment is not marriage, but it's damn close. One thing I've noticed over the years is that the VC does a lot of due diligence on the entrepreneur and his company, but entrepreneurs often do not do enough due diligence on the VC and his firm.
What kind of due diligence do you do on the firm you are going to hire to do your intellectual property work?
I once heard an interesting way one company bought services, when they arrived at the office they would always ask the receptionist, bellman, security guard, coffee barista etc. whether they would hire the prospective firm.
If they got a negative reply, nine times out of ten they wouldn’t even go on to the meeting. It isn’t what you do when everyone is watching, you know.
The moral of the story – no place is too crazy to do a little digging.
Posted by Douglas Sorocco at May 29, 2005 08:04 AM
Are you a huckster or a hack?
Posted by Douglas Sorocco at May 28, 2005 02:07 PM
Some ramblings that have been going through my head the last couple of days…
"Have you ever gazed into hell? I did right then. Let me tell you what it looks like.
"Hell is a place crowded with people thumbing their BlackBerries, chattering on their cell phones, shaking their earphones to an iPod beat and surfing the Internet on their Wi-Fi'd laptops."
"Hell is a round-the-clock orgy of people relating intimately with their high-tech gadgets while ignoring everyone around them. It's a place whose motto is not "Be here now," but "Be somewhere else all the time."
While out east this week I saw three people thumbing their BlackBerries while driving their cars on a beautiful late spring day – everything was green, the sun was shining and creatures abounded along the sides of the road.
A thought that ran through my mind… if “these type of people”, including myself, were still in elementary school – I wonder how many of us would be on Ritalin?
How many of us are so overloaded with the next piece of information that we cannot act on the last piece that came in?
How many of us are looking for the next client, the next project, the next XXX?
Maybe we all just need a little Ritalin? I would prefer enjoying a nice piece of contraband and a book (albeit a work-related book)`while on the porch, but then again… I might miss some information that is flowing electronically into my new gadget toy… er, tool.
Has anyone out there ever told a client that “they were not available 24 hours a day”? What was the result?
Thoughts on the growth of the Middle Coast for legal services - its more than just our lack of rosewood conference tables
Posted by J Matthew Buchanan at May 25, 2005 10:17 AM
The firms in the “middle coast” are expanding to fulfill a real need: client driven legal services, alternative billing and compensation systems, sanity concerning the number of billable hours required, and service.
Companies are no longer willing to pay sky-high rates in order to subsidize $100+ per square foot office space rates, unsustainable associate salaries and rosewood conference tables.
Is that good stuff, or what?
Doug’s post made me think a little deeper about the “middle coast” concept.
Why is the middle coast growing as a destination for legal services work?
I can at least offer a theory as it relates to patent work.
The new expertise has landed in Toledo…and Oklahoma City, and Boise…and Anytown, USA.
Corporate counsel continue to get hammered on legal expenses. For patent work, India is an option but most corporate counsel that are in a position to consider it are worried about the quality of the craftsmanship. They’ve been through a patent litigation or two (or twenty) and understand the importance of quality craftsmanship.
The hammering continues, so they slowly look for other options.
And there we are, right in the middle….offering the best of both worlds:
lower expenses (ask — you’ll be amazed!) with the same level of expertise.
I’m willing to guess that the difference in expenses has probably always existed. But, I think the expertise issue has changed dramatically over the last decade or so. I’m not referring to expertise in substantive patent law and practice — small firms in the middle coast have always had a high level of legal expertise. No, I’m talking about technical expertise.
In the past, technical expertise meant engineers. Lots of engineers. And physicists. Middle coasters had access to these people and therefore had the technical expertise that allowed them to compete. But, in the last 30 to 40 years, the requirements for technical expertise have changed. Now, patent firms must offer skills in biology, chemistry, computer science, and other developing fields — the new expertise.
Over the last several decades, big firms seemingly had a lock on this new expertise. They gobbled up newly minted lawyer-PhD's in all of these new fields. They took their push for the new expertise even further by hiring squads of non-lawyer PhD’s and resurrecting patent agent practice in the process. For awhile, the middle coasters couldn’t compete…geography, money, culture and many more criteria heavily favored the big city.
But that’s changing.
All of a sudden, experts in these new fields are staying in the middle coast. For some, the middle coast is home, making it an easy decision. For all, its a different way of life — the sanity Doug mentioned in his post. Have you heard? We’ve got PhD microbiologists in Toledo now (and I’m not just talking about my wife!). Doug has ‘em in Oklahoma for crying out loud. That’s a little tongue-in-cheek, of course, but the point is that big cities — and big firms — no longer have a lock on the new expertise.
This changes everything. All of a sudden, when big city and middle coast firms are compared, the spotlight shines almost exclusively on expenses, which is where we really shine.
There is another feature that attracts companies to large firms (which are typically big city firms) — raw capacity. You want 35 associates to handle your patent prosecution needs? There’s a big firm or two (or twenty) that can do that. In fact, they’ll make sure those associates start on it tomorrow evening.
None of our firms, individually, can do that.
But our network can.
Posted by Stephen M. Nipper at May 18, 2005 11:22 PM
When I got home earlier today, sitting in the mailbox was a package from another attorney in town. "Self," I said to myself, "that's odd."
The attorney is an acquaintance...someone I know, but not well. He has a good firm, does good work, and is well thought of.
But a package?
Odd. I opened the package. Inside was a book, wrapped in gift wrap, and a "thank you for the referral" letter.
I frequently refer clients to other attorneys. It's part of being a rethinker...being involved in your clients business and/or being a good enough listener to the people around you so you can help refer them on to the help they need. I'm a helper. I'm a networker.
The letter was a nice touch. It is something that I myself do...sending "thanks for the referral" letters. But a book? What kind of book? I didn't even have to open the package...I was already touched that he would send a letter. Imagine my surprise when I unwrapped the book and found a moleskine. Amazing...it was like he read my mind. Since seeing Sorocco lugging one around at TechShow I had been drooling over them. Doug has blogged about his moleskine love before.
A moleskine. Nice touch. Great call. Any chance I might remember him the next time I have a referral in his area of the law????
So. When was the last time you sent a colleague a "thanks for the referral" letter (didn't your momma teach you to say thanks)? It may be the best 3 minutes you spend this year.
Posted by J Matthew Buchanan at May 13, 2005 09:27 AM
Do you hesitate to call your patent attorney to update him on something on fear of getting a bill for 0.3 hours? Why does Dick Vitale’s voice permeate my head whenever I think of this problem?
“You just got 0.3’d baby!”
I bet Dickie V would look for patent counsel who doesn’t like to shoot the ‘trey so often.
Posted by Douglas Sorocco at May 11, 2005 05:28 PM
If you are a general counsel or other purveyor of legal services and you want to know why you get billed 2 hours for something that should take 15 minutes, have a look at this calculator.
Ask your firm what the billable hour requirement is for their associates, add 200 hours to that number (what associates really need to get their bonuses), assume they get to work at 8am, with an hour lunch, three weeks vacation and no holidays. Then assume they can’t bill 1–2 hours per day. Hit calculate.
Scary isn’t it.
My questions: Why would (1) anyone want to work in such a situation and (2) why would anyone want to hire a firm or lawyer who works in such a manner?
Posted by J Matthew Buchanan at May 10, 2005 10:56 AM
Yesterday, as I was feeding my addiction to business and legal news by listening to CNBC via XM radio in the car, I caught an interview with the Small Business Editor at the Wall Street Journal. It was a little piece of business “fluff,” but, for me, it was quite revealing. The piece included a discussion on the early steps entrepreneurs should take to advance their “Big Idea” toward a successful business.
Where should entrepreneurs turn for help with the basics of starting a business, asked the host. Not surprisingly, the guest did not mention patent attorneys.
This is when it hit me: Most patent attorneys do not use their position to help entrepreneurs in the early stages of getting the Big Idea off the ground.
As patent attorneys, entrepreneurs often come to us early in the process. We provide a variety of valuable services, such as conducting patentability searches and infringement analyses, drafting and filing patent applications, and helping people with the patent/trade secret decision.
But, as a group, we do not provide entrepreneurs with needed help in getting their business off the ground…in helping them define and take the “Next Step.” I don’t intend for us to form businesses and draft operating agreements – that’s not our realm. I’m speaking in more general terms, such as making connections with accountants, making introductions to other entrepreneurs, helping them locate office space, lab space, etc.
I’m proud to say that my firm routinely conducts these services for people (and I know the other rethinkers do the same). Recently, I made a connection between the university where I did my graduate work and a client who needed lab space. A relationship was formed, but no lab space was offered. So I took it a step further and worked with the local economic development group. Two months later, my client has lab space in a university building and is working on his Big Idea instead of worrying about finding lab space.
An aside: All the time I spent making the connections (probably several hours) — non-billable. Therein lies the answer to the question of why most big firms frown on these “needy” clients and avoid them to the best of their abilities (high “new client” retainers usually do the trick).
The reason my firm does it is simple. Its a one word (man) answer, as a matter of fact. Fraser. Our senior partner, Don Fraser, has practiced patent law for over 50 years, as did his father before him. His perspective on the practice is that patent attorneys are uniquely positioned to really help the entrepreneurs of this country. Writing patent applications that cover their invention is only a small part of what we can, and should, do for them. Entrepreneurism, as Don likes to say, is a limited resource that must be prized and cared-for properly. It is our responsibility to help in the care for that resource.
Big firms won’t provide these services (some general practice firms may, if the intellectual property partner can refer the “business” matters to a business partner and the time can be billed). This creates an opportunity for the smaller firms of the world.
Sacrifice some billable time and go hug an entrepreneur today!
Posted by Douglas Sorocco at May 8, 2005 11:36 AM
The Strategic Legal Technology Blog has an interesting post highlighting a comment from a reader on the issue of business development (BD) within a large law firm. The quote below is from the reader:
I spent a number of years in-house with a large financial institution. The focus on market analysis there was huge, analyzing customer segments, determining customer profitability, setting profitability targets, defining strategies for dealing with customers who didn’t meet those targets, etc.
One thing that continues to amaze me about my large law firm (and I suspect that it is not a lot different elsewhere) is the seeming disregard for all sorts of basic business development approaches. It’s as if the lawyers say, “Well, BD means either (1) take the client to a sports event, (2) host an internal CLE event, or (3) speak at some conference, and there is nothing else that I could possibly do to develop business.
They don’t start with the basic cross-selling of their own capabilities to their colleagues, they don’t focus on providing real value to their clients (because a lot of it would involve the investment of non-billable time that the firm doesn’t recognize, even if it pays off exponentially later), and they don’t analyze what they do right (and what the they do wrong!) to determine what things to emphasize (or ditch). And yet these are all intelligent people.
It continues to mystify me (although I believe that the emphasis on the billable hour works to discourage any such activities).
That darn billable hour again – it just keeps coming up as a deterrent to providing innovative and inquisitive legal services to clients. You could insert the “embedded patent attorney” (EPA) concept into that quote quite nicely and the same conclusions would apply. In most firms there is no incentive from a billable perspective or from a firm management perspective to become “embedded” in the client’s business.
Wouldn’t it be fun to have a Chief Embeddedness Officer (hmmm… CEO) around.
Maybe the ultimate embedded patent attorney should be thought of a "renaissance person" - competent in their area of practice and passionate about your business and success. The icing on the cake - they have interests outside the law …
(tags: metaphors pr renaissance tech service rethinkip embeddedpatentattornet)
Posted by Douglas Sorocco at May 7, 2005 09:22 PM
Russ gets it. He just gets it.
I view tradeshow attendance as one facet of an ongoing education essential to the practice of patent law, no less valuable than CLE courses. Keeping up with the basic technology and industry trends is just as necessary as knowing the latest CAFC decision.
I have always been surprised at the lack of intellectual property counsel walking tradeshows (with and without clients). If anyone out there works in the industry, I would be curious to know the statistics of the number of lawyers attending tradeshows in general.
As Russ mentions, walking a trade show gives you a broader perspective of what is going on in your client’s particular industry – beyond what is in the disclosure document – and jump starts your knowledge of what is happening at the competitive level.
I think it would be fun to use my software program De Jour (MindManager) at a tradeshow – mapping out competing products and potential design arounds/blocking patents would be an interesting brainstorming meeting to have with a client’s technology team.
Doing it in Vegas would just add to the “cool factor”.
I have been somewhat quiet here lately and y’all must excuse me as I have been in tech-geek nirvana – I have been ‘demo-ing’ a Toshiba R15 Tablet PC (obligatory picture at right).
My lust for a tablet pc has not been exactly a new phenomena – I had reviewed the options a couple of years back and decided that the form factor wasn’t something that would be useful at the time. The screens were too small for my taste, no integrated optical drives etc.
ABA TechShow and LexThink got me thinking about the whole process once again and I decided to devote some time to exploring the newest generations of the device. Additionally, Matt and Buzz spent a lot of time talking up the benefits of a Tablet PC – and how can anyone ever refuse Buzz?
Originally I was quite impressed with the new HP TC1100 – I had the opportunity to use one of these devices for a short period of time at LexThink and I was really digging the form factor – a detachable slate/keyboard combination. The screen was somewhat small for my taste (12”) but I thought the detachable nature would come in handy and alleviate some of the weight while traveling and/or holding the tablet. I was looking forward to bringing a couple of the devices into my firm for testing but HP didn’t seem to want to work with me – numerous phone calls and emails to sales and support folks went unanswered.
In the end, everything worked out... Through further research I narrowed down my choice between the R15 and the Fujitsu t4000. In the end, the Toshiba’s larger screen caught my fancy and after playing with a display unit at CompUSA, I ordered the R15 directly from ToshibaDirect.
So, I have a new tool (or toy as my wife would say) to experiment with for a couple of weeks before having to decide whether it will be a useful addition to my practice. You’ll have to forgive me if I wax philosophical about Tablet PCs the next couple of weeks.
What does this have to do with Rethink(ip)? Everything.
One of the goals of Rethink(ip) is to discuss new and innovative ways of serving client needs in the intellectual property realm. IP lawyers spend most of their time in the trenches with technology and science innovators (well, at least they should be) – any tool that improves interaction and communication is well worth incorporating into the mix.
In the short time I have been using the device, I have already seen some tremendous inking possibilities for client work:
- using mindmaps to sketch out patent application components,
- collaboratively drafting documents and disclosure documents and
- using other tools such as Go-To-Meeting and Camtasia Studio to promote collaborative learning and technology development.
The first piece of software to find its way onto my new R15 is MindManager – the integration with the inking capabilities is amazing. The second piece of software I put on the machine is ActiveWords. If you haven’t yet tried out ActiveWords, in a nutshell, it will change your practice – just ask Steve, he is doing some amazing patent related things with ActiveWords.
So — I see some patent-centric demos coming down the pike — anyone have any items/projects (non-confidential, of course) they would like to offer up for the cause? Drop us a comment and let us know how you have or would like to integrate a Tablet into your practice.
Posted by Douglas Sorocco at April 28, 2005 06:15 PM
Steve Veenema made an interesting comment in the Rethinking Legal Education and IP post that I want to highlight and comment on:
Speaking as someone who is currently preparing for a Property exam (at Suffolk Law School in Boston), but spends his days working in the real world with copyright and intellectual property issues, I can definitely see value in making IP a requirement, and in integrating it more into the first-year Property class. However, I don't know that it makes sense to view every aspect of your legal education that is not eventually utilized in practice as a worthless waste of a semester (or two). From where I'm sitting, the beginnings of law school are about developing an intellectual framework for understanding the fundamental legal relationships that have developed over time. Losing an understanding of the distinctions between contracts, trusts, agency, bailment, etc... is to lose some of the basis for our system of law. While I agree that few of us may apply that knowledge in any professional capacity, I don't think that the opportunity for professional application should be the determining factor for what is taught in law school.
I agree, Steve.
Law school should be the starting point of the lifelong pursuit of how to “think and act like a lawyer” – the application of rigorous analysis, insight and a good dose of common sense. A common vocabulary and understanding is necessary to be able to move on to the more judgment and insight related aspects of our profession – but we also need to be providing students with the information necessary to develop the common sense portion of the equation.
As an adjunct professor my perspective on the teaching of law is a bit different — I don’t see law students being trained in a manner that provides them with the tools to start developing and exercising insight – not to even mention judgment. Most law schools are merely fulfilling the need of big firms – producing robots that are programmed to churn and burn billable hours.
Inductive reasoning is not taught – rote memorisation and “case worship” usually carry the day.
For example, throw a non-science background person into a patent class and the dynamic instantly changes. The science folks learn the need to simplify issues so that the non-science folks can understand while the non-science students gain an appreciation of how complex legal issues become when applied to scientific endeavors.
Each group of people learn from one another more than they will ever learn from the professor. I would bet, however, that most law schools segregate out the patent class and don’t encourage non-science folks to take the class.
Another disturbing trend I see is that of law schools decreasing the number of semesters required for a degree — I would argue the opposite should be occurring. Ideally, law school should be a 4–5 year experience with required internship semester between semesters of coursework.
Every law student should be required to work with clients much the same way that doctors should be required to work with actual living patients. In such a framework, classes on intellectual property could be required and not compete for time with the “staid bastions of legal education”. Without the practical experience – it is all just book learning, nothing more and nothing less.
But why should IP law just be taught in law school? If it is truly touching all aspects of our economy and daily lives – why not make it a requirement for an MBA or even all undergraduate degrees. Maybe instead of teaching Bar Association CLE classes, IP lawyers should be teaching classes at the local colleges, trade schools and VO-Techs. Maybe even at the high schools?
Just some more thoughts on the issue…. What do you think? Keep the comments coming.
Posted by Douglas Sorocco at April 25, 2005 07:47 PM
One of Matt’s posts was about becoming a “client in order to become a visionary” with the main premise being that lawyers don’t often go out and use legal services, so we don’t see “it” from the point of view of the client. Matt suggests going to the best attorney in town who has the worst client service reputation and see how you are treated.
Interesting experiment – I will be curious to see if anyone takes the challenge and the outcome.
I don’t think most lawyers would learn anything from the experience, however. Why? I don’t believe that most lawyers would be able to apply the experience to their own circumstances.
Think about it for a moment – we are deluged daily with bad service experiences. For every bad lawyer client service cliche there is one from your daily life:
- A receptionist who puts people on hold: the gum chewing young woman who ignores you while talking on the phone to her boyfriend.
- Not returning a client’s phone call: the doctor who waited three days to call you back with the results of your test results.
- Unexpected bills/surcharges: the cellphone bill, the mechanics bill, the building contractor (this list is endless).
While it would be convenient to explain away poor client service on the basis of the lawyer never being in the shoes of a client, there are more than enough examples in our day to day lives that we should be able to draw upon.
The problem is, lawyers tend not to borrow from outside experiences. For example, we don’t tend to read outside our comfort zone nor do we apply the experiences we have gained in our day to day lives to the problems confronting our cleints. Not really all that much different than the doctor who makes you wait for 90 minutes in an examination room by yourself. How would that doctor react if his lawyer made him wait 90 minutes with no explanation?
So, instead of being a client – why not simply make a list of service providers you hate, loathe, despise or abhor and then detail what they have done to make it on the list.
And then do the opposite.
Posted by Stephen M. Nipper at April 22, 2005 01:19 AM
The Greatest American Lawyer (whom I met at LexThink) has a very interesting post up on "The Truth About the Billable Hour" which points to a Yale Law School article used to educate law students on billable hours. [some of you reading this may not know that associates in big law firms are often pressured to bill out 1700 to 2300 hours a year...of course every hour you are in the office isn't billable (or at least it shouldn't be) and so the Yale article talks about how hard it is to reach those hourly requirements)].
GAL's article is interesting for two reasons: (1) he talks about the stress on associates to meet their billable hour minimums and (2) he implies the existence of ethical issues incumbent in such a minimum billable hour system. The Yale article breaks it down...that life must suck.
[Disclaimer: I've always worked in small firms that don't have minimum billable hour requirements and thus see the issue from the outside, without experiencing it myself. Maybe this is thus a better "post" for Buchanan or Sorocco to write...maybe they'll add their own comments in separate posts. If not working in such a firm makes me an idiot...flame away, the comments are open.]
I guess this post goes out to the young minds in the audience. I encourage you all to rethink where you take your first IP job. There are many many opportunities out there to work (for considerably lower pay) in small metropolitain areas. Jobs with firms who don't have outrageous billable hour requirements (if any at all), firms who believe in a quality of life, firms in cities where you can actually afford to live in the city (little to no commute)... Oh sure, you'll take a hit, likely a big hit, in starting salary, but consider the benefits? Lower stress, jobs you love, a life outside of the office, more time with your spouse/kids, etc.
I can't imagine a better job in the world than mine....of course it might be fun to work for Underwriters Laboratories (blowing stuff up all day)...but I digress. Rethink about it...consider the possibility of working in small firm, small metro area IP practice.