Harrity #1 on Vault.com’s Best Midsize Firm To Work For Rankings

Vault ‘Quality Of Life’ Rankings: The Best Midsize Law Firms To Work For (2021)

Did your law firm make the cut this time around?

(Above the Law, September 17, 2020) Vault recently published the 2021 edition of all manner of its closely watched rankings for the largest law firms in the country, proving that money — in the form of Cravath’s perennially competitive pay scale — can buy prestige and happiness.

But what about the nation’s midsized and regional firms? Which ones are the best to work for, and will young associates be happy there as associates Today, Vault released the latest edition of its list of the 25 Best Midsize Law Firms to Work For.

Associates at firms with 200 attorneys or fewer were asked to rank their own law firms based on categories most relevant to their overall quality of life, including overall satisfaction; firm culture; hours; compensation; quality of work; informal training, mentorship, and sponsorship; business outlook; career outlook; associate/partner relations; leadership transparency; and formal training.

There was a huge amount of movement in the Top 10 this year. Which firms made the cut? Without any further ado, here are the Top 10 Best Midsize Law Firms to Work For based on Vault’s Annual Associate Survey for 2021:

  1. Harrity & Harrity (not ranked; first time in Top 10)
  2. Lightfoot, Franklin & White (+20)
  3. Bookoff McAndrews (-2)
  4. Smyser Kaplan & Veselka (not ranked; first time in Top 10)
  5. Farella Braun + Martel (+7)
  6. Susman Godfrey (-4)
  7. Greenberg Glusker Fields Claman & Machtinger (-4)
  8. Robinson, Bradshaw & Hinson (not ranked; first time in Top 10)
  9. Stotler Hayes Group (not ranked; first time in Top 10)
  10. Fitch, Even, Tabin & Flannery (not ranked; first time in Top 10)

That’s a whole lot of firms that have never been ranked before, but if you scroll further down the list, you’ll see a lot of more familiar names. Harrity & Harrity shared the spotlight with Susman Godfrey (Vault’s best litigation boutique) this year in terms of claiming No. 1 spots in the rankings. That said, here are the No. 1 firms in each Quality of Life category for 2021:

Congratulations to each of the firms that made the latest edition of the Vault Best Midsize Firms to Work For rankings, and a huge congratulations to Harrity & Harrity and Susman Godfrey for sweeping the rankings.

Best Midsize Law Firms to Work For (2021) [Vault]

About Harrity & Harrity, LLP

Harrity & Harrity is a leading patent preparation and prosecution firm specializing in the electrical and mechanical technology areas, and is considered a Go-To Firm for the Patent 300™.  Their clients trust in their high-quality work, experienced people, industry leading innovation, and outstanding service.

 

Brad Watts – Section 101 Reform Efforts in the 116th Congress: Clause 8, Episode 22

Brad Watts is the Majority Chief Counsel and Staff Director for the Senate Subcommittee on Intellectual Property. Under the leadership of Senator Thom Tillis, Brad Watts has led the effort to fix the Section 101 patent eligibility mess.

A series of Supreme Court decisions over the last decade have caused enormous confusion and uncertainty with regard to patent eligibility. After the 2018 midterm elections, to the relief of many in the innovation community, Senators Thom Tillis and Chris Coons requested to reinstate the Senate Subcommittee on IP to fix this issue. The process for reforming 101 included a framework released in April 2019, a bipartisan, bicameral draft bill released in May 2019, and an unprecedented three days of hearings with 45 witnesses representing almost every imaginable view on the subject.

At the end of those hearings, Sen. Tillis said “I want to do this quickly . . . I think we can review the record and make changes, garner consensus, and introduce a final bill sometime after the July 4 recess.”  That never happened.

In an IP Watchdog interview earlier this year, Sen Tillis explained that the Section 101 reform “process stalled because stakeholders refused to compromise.”

What happened? Is the effort to reform Section 101 really over? Why did the effort fail in this Congress? What should the innovation community do help revive the effort? Is there a possibility of a narrow medical diagnostics fix that is likely to lead many others pushing for reform disappointed?

In this episode, I speak with Brad about what really happened during this last attempt at reform, why it wasn’t successful, where to go from here, and much more.

Some of the topics discussed:

  • How Capitol Hill staffers learn about IP issues
  • Influence of Professor David Taylor’s research about the current patent eligibility jurisprudence and its negative impact on investment
  • What prompted Sen. Tillis to focus on patent eligibility reform and restart the Senate Subcommittee on IP
  • Process laid out by Sen. Tillis for patent eligibility reform legislation
  • Why everyone who wanted to engage in good faith was invited to be part of the process
  • Whether goal was to pass bill this Congress or to start a multi-Congress effort
  • Bad faith efforts to stop patent eligibility reform and why even some opponents of patent eligibility reform might have legitimate points
  • How the bipartisan, bicameral draft bill released in May 2019 was drafted – involvement of staffers Jamie Simpson, Phil (Phillip) Warrick, and Tom (Thomas) Stoll and the principals
  • Possibility of narrow diagnostics-only fix for Section 101 and why Sen. Tillis is open to it
  • Why Sen. Tillis never introduced a bill after the 3 day of hearings
  • How stakeholders can reach consensus with regards to patent eligibility to make reform possible
  • Continued work on patent eligibility reform
  • How stakeholders can and should communicate their position and concerns to Sen. Tillis and their own Senators about IP issues in general

Listen and subscribe on IPwatchdog.com or your favorite podcasting app!

 

Harrity & Harrity Named Best Midsize Firm To Work For

Law360 (September 18, 2020, 10:43 PM EDT) — Virginia-based patent prosecution firm Harrity & Harrity LLP is this year’s best midsize law firm to work for, according to Vault.com’s annual rankings released Thursday.

Harrity & Harrity claimed the top spot on Vault’s Best Midsize Law Firms to Work For list, based on a survey of thousands of associates. Harrity & Harrity — which didn’t even make the Top 10 list last year — usurped Bookoff McAndrews LLP, which went down two slots to third on the list.

Harrity & Harrity topped the categories of associate and partner relations, diversity, firm culture, hours, satisfaction, and technology and innovation, while sharing the top spot for quality of work.

Managing Partner John E. Harrity told Law360 on Friday that the firm strives to foster a creative and hard-working environment in which employees are encouraged to communicate openly and where feedback and ideas are taken very seriously.

“Our firm’s success is owed to our employees, and we owe it to them to provide a supportive and collaborative environment for them to grow and succeed,” Harrity said. “With that said, this recognition is a huge honor and achievement, reflective of the quality of life that we strive to provide to every member of our team.”

Alabama-based litigation firm Lightfoot Franklin & White LLC was ranked second on the list. Vault noted that Lightfoot — along with Franklin & White and Smyser Kaplan & Veselka — “stood out from the rest” as it placed on all 13 categories, such as transparency and wellness.

“We embrace a ‘learn by doing’ approach with our associates, giving them early and consistent opportunities to gain experience and expand their skills through high-level work both inside and outside of the courtroom,” Lightfoot managing partner Melody Eagan said in a statement on Friday.

Washington, D.C.-based patent prosecution firm Bookoff McAndrews shared the top spot for quality of work with Lightfoot Franklin and Harrity & Harrity.

Dinesh N. Melwani, a partner at Bookoff McAndrews, told Law360 on Friday that the firm places a large emphasis on cultivating a friendly atmosphere that fosters teamwork, collaboration and a sense of community.

“Our inclusive workplace culture has been and will continue to be paramount to our success as an organization,” Melwani said. “We believe that when our attorneys enjoy work that is valued, we will be able to consistently provide high levels of quality work product and client service.”

Rounding out the Top 10 were Smyser Kaplan, Farella Braun & Martel LLPSusman Godfrey LLPGreenberg Glusker Fields Claman & Machtinger LLPRobinson Bradshaw & Hinson PA, Stotler Hayes Group LLC and Fitch Even Tabin & Flannery LLP.

Diversity Lab announced Tuesday that 23 midsize firms will participate in a new iteration of the Mansfield Rule specifically for firms with fewer than 100 lawyers in the U.S. The rule means the firms have shown that candidates they considered for key positions — such as governance roles and equity partner promotions — included at least 30% women, LGBTQ attorneys, racial and ethnic minorities, and lawyers with disabilities.

The 18-month pilot of the Midsize Mansfield Rule “has been fine-tuned to boost diversity in leadership for firms with smaller lawyer populations, single office locations and leaner firm leadership structures,” according to Diversity Lab.

–Additional reporting by Michele Gorman and Hailey Konnath. Editing by Michael Watanabe.

About Harrity & Harrity, LLP

Harrity & Harrity is a leading patent preparation and prosecution firm specializing in the electrical and mechanical technology areas, and is considered a Go-To Firm for the Patent 300™.  Their clients trust in their high-quality work, experienced people, industry leading innovation, and outstanding service.

 

Diversity in Patent Law: A Data Analysis of Diversity in the Patent Practice by Technology Background and Region

Harrity’s Elaine Spector and LaTia Brand provide a deep-dive analysis of the lack of diversity in the patent practice for the American Bar Association’s Landslide® Magazine. Read the full article here:

 

Diversity in Patent Law

Harrity Wins 2020 American Legal Technology Award

Harrity & Harrity has won the 2020 American Legal Technology Award for the Law Firm category.

For its inaugural awards ceremony, American Legal Technology received over 180 nominations for consideration in 8 categories. Twenty legal industry expert judges chose 3 finalists for each category, announcing winners over video streams from September 7 – September 16.

Harrity was recognized as the winner of the law firm category on September 11, being described as ‘a law firm that utilizes technology to exceed client expectations in a significant, measurable way.’

Watch the award announcement here:

 

The mission of the American Legal Technology Awards, according to americanlegaltechnology.com, is:
To hold up examples of excellence in creative innovation and technology in the legal industry for the purposes of (1) expanding our understanding of what is possible, (2) encouraging a virtuous cycle of improvement, and (3) creating a more just society.

About Harrity & Harrity, LLP

Harrity & Harrity is a leading patent preparation and prosecution firm specializing in the electrical and mechanical technology areas, and is considered a Go-To Firm for the Patent 300™.  Their clients trust in their high-quality work, experienced people, industry leading innovation, and outstanding service.

 

Professor Adam Mossoff – Academics in IP: Clause 8, Episode 21

When Eli first started practicing in the late aughts, he found that a lot of what he was seeing about patents in various academic papers and studies, on Capitol Hill, and even in Supreme Court decisions, didn’t really reflect the reality of what he was seeing in practice, talking to innovators. In contrast, Professor Adam Mossoff’s compelling work, including articles in various general interest newspapers, stood out.  Not surprisingly, he is largely responsible for providing the intellectual foundation that has helped shift the anti-patent narrative.  So, it was a huge honor to talk to someone who not only helped shape Eli’s own thinking about patent and IP policy issues but has really shaped the current debates in Washington, DC about these issues.

Professor Mossoff is currently Professor of Law at George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School, a Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute, and a Visiting Intellectual Property Fellow at the Heritage Foundation.

On this episode, Professor Mossoff and Eli discuss academics’ impact on IP policy and many other subjects, including:

  • how Richard Epstein influenced Professor Mossoff’s scholarship,
  • how the ideals of classical liberalism relate to intellectual property rights,
  • the debate among conservatives and libertarians regarding IP issues,
  • what’s wrong about framing IP rights as being all about providing incentives,
  • the Supreme Court’s approach to patent cases,
  • why Congress and the executive branch – not the Supreme Court – are the better path for improving America’s patent system,
  • “Why Do Law Professors Do What They Do?”
  • how law school professors influence the patent policy debate,
  • how trade organizations try to shape the patent policy debate by using law professors and other prominent attorneys,
  • importance of law school professors making it clear when they’re acting as advocates v. as academics,
  • navigating junk science studies/statistical claims about the patent system,
  • importance of engaging in a positive research agenda about the patent system instead of just reacting to bad scholarship,
  • empirical research overwhelmingly contradicting the patent holdup theory over the last 10 years,
  • educating Congressman Darrell Issa and the importance of having evidence and data on your side,
  • contradiction of China strengthening its own patent system while continuing to steal IP from other countries and having no rule of law otherwise,
  • the unprecedented response by the pharmaceutical industry to the COVID?19 pandemic thanks to the foundation previously created by America’s patent system,
  • how current changes to the patent system can undermine a similar response to the future,
  • and much more!

Listen and subscribe on IPwatchdog.com or your favorite podcasting app!

 

Harrity Implements Optional 3PM Start for Support Staff Due to Virtual School

Harrity & Harrity, the Go-To Firm for the Patent 300™, has adjusted its flexible start time to accommodate distance learning.  With schools across the country implementing virtual classes this fall, Harrity leadership announced that employees have the option begin their workday as late as 3:00 pm, allowing working parents and caretakers to focus on both the education of their children and their careers.

The firm already offers schedule flexibility, remote options, and a 7.5-hour workday, and recently implemented a four-day work week trial period for support staff.  The 3 pm start-time is just one more way Harrity is improving life/work balance in the legal field.

“At Harrity, we understand the predicament that virtual learning can create for working parents who are trying to balance their child’s schoolwork and their own career.  We don’t believe in making our team choose between their family and their success, and recognize that with schools across the country practicing e-learning this fall, that is the unfortunate reality for many,” said John Harrity, Managing Partner.

“Effective immediately, we have modified our flexible hours to allow staff to start their workday as late as 3 pm, when most school days end.  This will allow parents to assist with classwork and childcare during normal school hours, without using PTO or falling behind at work.”

The new policy has been well-received by staff, as it offers relief to the firm’s working parents struggling to find a balance.

Back in March, Autumn Vanatta, a Patent Prosecution Specialist at Harrity, began sharing her remote office with her two children.

At the time, her husband was also home and able to assist with helping their two children, in 1st and 4th grades, complete their online assignments.  “We were one of the few schools that continued actual grading, classes were not just pass/fail, so sometimes it required teaching new material to the kids.  Some days this took a lot of time and effort because we are not trained to be school teachers, so we put forth the extra effort to learn how to teach our children the lessons so they would not fall behind.”

However, as school starts back this fall Autumn’s husband will not be home to assist with school.  Her children will be in a school district holding virtual classes so she jumped at the opportunity to start her workday later.

“I really wasn’t sure how I was going to balance two kids “in” school and working during the same hours, knowing how much time and effort my husband and I put into the last few months of the last school year.  The 3pm start time will keep me from feeling pulled in three directions – responding to work in a timely manner and assisting two kids (in different grades) with school,” she said.

Docketing Specialist Julie Swartz added how appreciative she is of the firm’s consideration and support of its staff.

“Not only does Harrity & Harrity encourage their employees to innovate and excel while on the job, but also in life.  In addition to the benefit of working remotely, having a flexible schedule empowers me to focus my attention on my child’s online schooling during typical working hours,” stated Julie. “The firm has alleviated the problem so many parents are facing during these difficult times- to be an educator, a role model, and a dedicated employee – all within the confines of 9 to 5.”

 

About Harrity & Harrity, LLP

Harrity & Harrity is a leading patent preparation and prosecution firm specializing in the electrical and mechanical technology areas, and is considered a Go-To Firm for the Patent 300™.  Their clients trust in their high-quality work, experienced people, industry leading innovation, and outstanding service.

For more information on Harrity’s life/work balance and other factors that contribute to their high employee satisfaction and great team culture, and to apply to current openings, please visit harrityllp.com/careers.

 

Harrity Allows Staff to Choose Own Work Schedule Due to Virtual School

As working parents try to figure out how they will help their children with virtual learning this fall, one local law firm is trying to set an example.

The firm Harrity and Harrity is based in Fairfax, Virginia, but has employees nationwide and just announced its staff can now choose their own schedule with the ability to start the day as late as three o’clock in the afternoon.

 

Managing partner John Harrity tells FOX 5: “Is someone supposed to quit their job just so they can sit with their kids to make sure that they’re learning all day? That’s a devastating situation.”

Harrity says many of his employees are taking him up on the 3 p.m. start time and his firm is hoping others take notice and consider offering their staff the same flexibility.

For more information on Harrity’s life/work balance and other factors that contribute to their high employee satisfaction and great team culture, and to apply to current openings, please visit harrityllp.com/careers.

 

Jorden Harrity, Daughter of John Harrity, Organizes Pizza Deliveries to Thank First Responders

By 

CENTREVILLE, VA (The Patch)— The Harrity family had faced a similarly scary situation four years earlier when John Harrity was rushed to the hospital with what turned out to be a major heart attack. In late April, Harrity’s 17-year-old daughter Jorden Harrity suddenly fainted in the early morning hours, bringing back memories of 2016. Her parents called 911, and she was rushed to the emergency room.

The doctors at the hospital ran a bunch of tests but could not find any major issues with Jorden. While everything worked out for the teen who will be a senior at Centreville High School, she started thinking about the firefighters and EMTs like the ones with the Fairfax County Fire & Rescue Department who helped her.

Jorden wondered why they were not necessarily receiving as much attention as the hardworking medical teams at hospitals who are also risking their lives helping COVID-19 patients. She told Patch that she believed first responders also deserved recognition for the risky work they do on a daily basis.

As a way to show her gratitude for taking her to the hospital — and remembering how EMTs rushed her father to the hospital four years earlier — Jorden came up with the idea to deliver pizzas to the fire station where the firefighters and EMTs worked.

Harrity delivered her first pizzas last Friday to the Fairfax County Fire & Rescue Department in Centreville to thank them for helping her back in April.

Capt. Kenneth Dobbs at the Fairfax County Fire & Rescue Department said he appreciated Jorden delivering the pizzas in person. EMTs often do not know what happens to the people who they help. “The fact that she was able to walk in here, say thank you to us and bring us pizza,” he told WDVM. “It just means a lot to us and our crews.”

Jorden Harrity, a rising senior at Centreville High School, meets with Fairfax Fire & Rescue Department personnel to express her appreciation. (Courtesy of John Harrity)

Jorden also approached her dad, managing partner of Harrity & Harrity law firm in Fairfax City, with an idea to not only thank the men and women at the Centreville fire station but to honor the nearby fire stations for each of the 56 employees of his law firm, who not only live in Virginia, but in more than two dozen other states.

Jorden started doing research to determine which local fire station was the one that would respond to each Harrity & Harrity employee’s home across the country in case of emergency. After delivering pizzas to the Centreville fire station on Friday, Jorden is now scheduling deliveries to fire stations in states across the country.

After his near-death experience in 2016 at the age of 49 from a “widow-maker” heart attack, Jorden’s father, John Harrity, ramped up his charitable efforts. His Fairfax City law firm, Harrity & Harrity, was already known for its giving, whether it was through its participation in the annual Lawyers Have Heart race in Georgetown that raises money for the American Heart Association or local charities.

Since his near-death experience, John Harrity and his brother and law firm co-founder Paul Harrity created the Harrity 4 Charity that gives five percent of the law firm’s profits to charities. Law firm employees also donate a portion of their paychecks to charity. In addition to the charities, Harrity also created an emergency COVID-19 fund.

Jorden, who is a member of service clubs at Centreville High School, said her father’s efforts since his heart attack have inspired her to help others. She told Patch about her new appreciation for the value of community service and plans to continue working to help others during her senior year and when she heads off to college in the fall of 2021.

 

About Harrity 4 Charity

Harrity 4 Charity represents a partnering of law firm Harrity & Harrity, LLP, with charities that are near and dear to our hearts. Harrity pledges to give five percent of profits to partner charities and all Harrity employees pledge to donate a portion of their paychecks. Harrity & Harrity is a patent preparation and prosecution firm specializing in the electrical and mechanical technology areas and is considered a Go-To Firm for the Patent 300 ™. Our clients have come to trust in our high-quality work, experienced people, industry leading innovation, and outstanding service. For more information, visit harrityllp.com.

Virginia teen thanks first responders with pizza deliveries

CENTREVILLE, Va. (WDVM) — 17-year-old Jorden Harrity, daughter of Harrity & Harrity Manager Partner John Harrity, is thanking first responders by delivering pizzas to local fire stations.

 

 

Harrity came up with the idea when she fainted back in April and the paramedics brought her to the hospital. She realized that the first responders weren’t getting as much notoriety as the medical staff in hospitals.

Harrity delivered her first pizza on August 7 to the Fairfax County Fire & Rescue Department to thank them for answering her call back in April.

One pizza down… 56 more to go. Harrity decided that she wanted to thank other local first responders. She located the nearest responding unit for all 56 employees in her father’s firm. Now, she will be scheduling deliveries in states all across the U.S.

Capt. Kenneth Dobbs at the Fairfax County Fire & Rescue Department was thankful for the delivery — not because of the pizzas, but because he got to see Harrity. The teams don’t usually know what happens to the people who they respond to.

“The fact that she was able to walk in here, say thank you to us and bring us pizza…it just means a lot to us and our crews,” he said.

by 

 

About Harrity 4 Charity

Harrity 4 Charity represents a partnering of law firm Harrity & Harrity, LLP, with charities that are near and dear to our hearts. Harrity pledges to give five percent of profits to partner charities and all Harrity employees pledge to donate a portion of their paychecks. Harrity & Harrity is a patent preparation and prosecution firm specializing in the electrical and mechanical technology areas and is considered a Go-To Firm for the Patent 300 ™. Our clients have come to trust in our high-quality work, experienced people, industry leading innovation, and outstanding service. For more information, visit harrityllp.com.

Bruce MacEwen – Adam Smith, Esq.: Clause 8, Episode 20

On the latest episode of the Clause 8 podcast, Eli interviews Bruce MacEwen – the founder and president of Adam Smith, Esq. Bruce is recognized as the world’s leading expert on the economics of law firms, has written thousands of articles on the subject, and provides advice to select firms about how to succeed in the changing legal landscape.

The Great Recession spurred lots of talk about innovation, technology, alternative fee arrangements, new compensation structures, and countless of other ways that law firms need to change. However, the economic boom that followed has allowed “Big Law” firms to continue to thrive without making any substantial changes. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused painful flashbacks for many law firm leaders who previously led their firms through the Great Recession. At the same time, the continued uncertainty and uneven impact on the economy, has made it much more difficult for law firms to decide what steps need to be taken. For example, in the IP field, there was an initial slowdown of litigation work while patent prosecution work remained relatively stable.

Eli reached out to Bruce to get his thoughts about how law firms have been responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, what law firm leaders should be thinking about while navigating this moment in time, and the business of law in general.

On this episode, Eli and Bruce discuss:

  • Why Bruce thought there was something off about law firms by Thanksgiving of his first year as an associate
  • How companies select & manage outside counsel
  • Tension of building in-house law departments v. relying on outside counsel
  • Why law firms refuse to do recession scenario planning
  • Surprising nimbleness of law firms
  • Law firms being much more thoughtful and humane in dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic than they were during the “Great Financial Reset of 2008”
  • Why successful law firm partners can be dynamite for law firms
  • Rethinking real estate needs of law firms
  • Different law firm models – “Best-in-breed” law firms v. full-service law firms
  • Boutiques and benefits of a lawyer’s practice being at the core of what a firm does
  • Using Net Promoter Score (NPS) to evaluate law firms
  • Law firms deciding whether to invest in a practice area
  • Vision and hunger being the key to starting a successful boutique law
  • Difference between lawyers who succeed v. fail
  • much more!

Listen and subscribe on IPwatchdog.com or your favorite podcasting app!

 

Harrity Implements Four-Day Work Week

Harrity & Harrity, the Go-To Firm for the Patent 300 ™, has implemented a four-day work week for support staff.  This summer, each support team has selected one month to test out the shortened work week, splitting up who takes which day off in rotation.

The firm already offers schedule flexibility, remote options, and a 7.5-hour workday.  The ultimate goal of the four-day work week is to maintain this, allowing staff to work just 30 hours per week without taking any cuts in pay.

“Obviously, we have deadlines, and timeliness is an extremely important part of the services we provide our clients,” says John Harrity, Managing Partner.  “Support staff will work a longer day if they have to in order to ensure all work is completed on time, but the intention of the four-day work week is not to work four 10-hour days.  The goal is to continue with our normal 7.5-hour day, with a 30-hour work week.”

The idea came about in 2019, with the goal of attaining true life/work balance- a significant component of Harrity’s firm culture.  Although many things still need to be achieved before the firm can implement this full-time, shortened summer weeks are a step in the right direction.

“The future of the firm,” says John, “will be permanent four-day work weeks.”

And, it seems to be going well so far.

“I’ve done a four-day work week before and I love doing it; I think our team really likes it too. Who doesn’t want to cut their work week down to four days?” says Sara Stesney, Manager of the New Applications Support Team.

Another advantage, she adds, is the fact that the benefit is shared by the whole team.

“The individuals on my team are incredibly hardworking and responsible.  Despite the firm’s ample PTO policy, they are hesitant to take any paid time off, because they know their absence will increase the workload of their other team members and they just don’t want to create more work for anyone else. With the four-day work week, everyone contributes to the extra workload, and everyone enjoys the extra time off.   I’ve already seen the benefits of the shortened week reflected in the mindsets of my team members.  They come back from their day off truly refreshed and ready to tackle their work, without the feeling of guilt for putting a burden on their colleagues.”

For more information on Harrity’s life/work balance and other factors that contribute to their high employee satisfaction and great team culture, and to apply to current openings, please visit harrityllp.com/careers.

Harrity 4 Charity Lends a Hand in Communities Across the Country During Pandemic

For the past 33 years, Manna Ministries, a weekly food share distribution agency in rural Alabaster, Alabama, has helped feed people in underserved communities in four counties—already making it the largest agency of Community Food Bank of Central Alabama in Birmingham. But even so, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed everything.

“Since COVID,” says Executive Director Phyllis Harbin, “we have doubled the number of people we are serving since this time last year, now close to 300 households. And we are one of the only food shares that distributes weekly, not monthly.  People are carpooling here from inner city Birmingham with two, three, even four families in the vehicle because they can’t find enough food,” she notes about the drive-throughs on Saturday mornings.”

“People are losing their jobs,” she explains. “We’re now seeing all walks of life come through … many of them middle class folks. At least 25% have never needed to ask for help before.  People have no financial cushion and who would have ever thought something like this would happen?”

Reliant on donations of cash and food, all-volunteer Manna Ministries is able to feed someone for a month for about $5 … But COVID has made it far harder to meet the demand … And many people don’t realize that Food Stamps don’t even cover necessary paper products or hygiene items.

“Weekly,” Phyllis relates, “we give every family one box each of pantry items, produce and meat, as well as breads, sweets and dairy if we have it—about 50-60 pounds of food. And we provide baby formula/food. We don’t always have hygiene items, but we are trying during the pandemic to provide toilet paper, paper towels, laundry soap, feminine hygiene products, even pet food.  All of our volunteers look for donations, like asking our dentists to donate toothpaste and toothbrushes.  We’ll take any usable donation. Hand sanitizer is hard to find, but the Church Ladies have been making masks to hand out.  We just try to show kindness and love on them.”

Afraid that COVID isn’t going anywhere soon, donations like the one from Harrity 4 Charity’s COVID emergency fund are more important than ever.  “You betcha,” says Phyllis, a retired financial record keeper.  “The amount that Harrity gave us took us through three months of weekly food drive-throughs—You’re talking about feeding 1,500 families. And the public relations support provided by Harrity brought in three more sizable donations. We’re grateful.”

“We all do it not because we have to,” she shares, “but because we see a big need out there and have a love of people. We feel called to do His work. It’s a labor of love and we’re just glad that we’re able to assist.”

See Manna Ministries food distribution drive-thru on NBC’s WVTM-TV: https://www.wvtm13.com/article/local-ministry-hands-out-food-to-hundreds-in-alabaster/33357106

Images of Food Drive-Through

About Harrity 4 Charity

Harrity 4 Charity represents a partnering of law firm Harrity & Harrity, LLP, with charities that are near and dear to our hearts. Harrity pledges to give five percent of profits to partner charities and all Harrity employees pledge to donate a portion of their paychecks. Harrity & Harrity is a patent preparation and prosecution firm specializing in the electrical and mechanical technology areas and is considered a Go-To Firm for the Patent 300 ™. Our clients have come to trust in our high-quality work, experienced people, industry leading innovation, and outstanding service. For more information, visit harrityllp.com.

Harrity’s Rocky Berndsen Recognized in IAM Strategy 300: The World’s Leading IP Strategists Annual Listing

Harrity’s Rocky Berndsen has been recognized in the IAM Strategy 300: The World’s Leading IP Strategists, an annual listing of individuals who lead the way in the development and implementation of world-class programs that maximize the value of intellectual property portfolios.

According to IAM Media, the strategists identified in this guide do not see issues from just one perspective; instead, they see value creation in the round. It is this 360-degree perspective, combined with a demonstrable ability to deliver, which makes them stand out from the crowd.

Rocky’s innovation and leadership in the area of patent analytics and IP business strategy development contributed to his nomination on this global listing of the IP elite. Congratulations, Rocky!

About the IAM Strategy 300 Nominations

(Source: IAM Media)

These world-class IP strategists are primarily identified through confidential nominations made online. However, the extensive research process also involves face-to-face and telephone interviews, as well as email exchanges, with senior members of the global IP community.

No individual can qualify for a listing in the IAM Strategy 300 unless he or she is nominated by at least three people from outside of his or her own organization. But even this does not guarantee inclusion; instead, only those individuals who further research shows to have exceptional skill sets, as well as profound insights into the development, creation and management of IP value, are featured in the IAM Strategy 300.

For this latest edition of the guide, IAM started the research process from scratch; so even those who had previously been listed had to meet the same selection criteria as those who are new to the guide this year. Once a person received the minimum three recommendations from outside his or her own organization, IAM undertook their own independent research to assess these claims.

Most nominees did not make it through the vetting process; those who did are listed in the following pages. The selection procedure is always strictly applied because our overarching aim is to ensure that only those individuals who possess exceptional skill sets – as well as profound insights into the development, creation and management of IP value – are featured in the IAM Strategy 300.

“We cannot promise that every IP strategist who deserves to be described as world class has made it into this publication. But we are certain that everyone who is listed deserves to be.”

About Harrity & Harrity, LLP

Harrity & Harrity is a leading patent preparation and prosecution firm specializing in the electrical and mechanical technology areas, and is considered a Go-To Firm for the Patent 300™.  Their clients trust in their high-quality work, experienced people, industry leading innovation, and outstanding service.

 

Data-Driven Decision Making for Patent Portfolio Managers

By Bret Tingey, Associate | IPWatchdog.com

A patent portfolio can be one of the greatest assets that a company owns. A patent portfolio may boost a company’s valuation for a stock offering or a sale, may be licensed for recurring revenue, may be sold to raise cash, or may be enforced to seek monetary damages or to exclude competitors from the market. However, growing a patent portfolio can be expensive. For this reason, many companies hire a portfolio manager to balance the value and expense of growing and maintaining the patent portfolio.

A portfolio manager may be responsible for making decisions including a total target number of patent filings, target numbers of patent filings for different technology areas of the company, patent firms to use for filing and prosecuting patent applications, or how to manage costs per issued patent. The portfolio manager can improve the decision-making process by using data-driven decision making. This article shows some examples of data-driven decision making.

Keep Reading on IPWatchdog.com

 

Study Ranks Harrity as a Quality Leader in Patent Field

In a recently released evaluation of U.S. patent law firms, Harrity & Harrity, LLP emerged as a quality leader in the patent field.

“Quality is how we set ourselves apart from any other firm in the patent space. Since day one, we’ve had two core processes in place to ensure our work product consistently meets the highest quality standards,” says John Harrity, the Harrity’s managing partner. “These include systematically reviewing every attorney work product through a ‘Second Attorney Review (2AR)’ process before it goes out the door and adhering to a uniform writing style. The high ‘Quality Score’ ratings recently received from Patent Bots confirms we are upholding those standards.”

The study, conducted by patent proof-reading service Patent Bots, reviewed an entire year of issued U.S. patents from 802 law firms, then ranked the firms based on the average number of errors in each patent, published here.  Of those firms with at least 200 issued patents, Harrity & Harrity ranked #1 overall in terms of patent quality. Among all 802 firms reviewed, Harrity & Harrity ranked #2. These rankings are based on an average quality score of 98.931 for the 528 patents issued by Harrity between March 31, 2019 – March 31, 2020.

Harrity also ranked #1 in the following U.S. Patent Office Technology Centers: Tech Center 2100 (99.38 out of 100); Tech Center 2400 (99.92 out of 100); and Tech Center 3600 (99.41 out of 100). The firm ranked second in Tech Center 2600 (99.91 out of 100) and ninth in Tech Center 2800 (96.28).

Jeff O’Neill,  the CEO of Patent Bots, stated “Harrity’s top quality ranking is truly impressive, and Harrity is to be commended for its commitment to providing top quality work for its clients.”

In addition to landing at the top of the Patent Bots rankings, Harrity was recently recognized on the 2020 IAM Patent 1000 list, an annual compilation of the world’s leading patent professionals, as a “highly recommended” firm for patent prosecution.

The online edition of the release noted, “It is simply amazing what Harrity & Harrity has been able to achieve in the patent space by applying a carefully thought-out lean manufacturing style system to file vast numbers of patents while maintaining quality of the highest order. Clever use of automation and a uniform writing style play into its efficiency, while a rigorous second-attorney review system helps to set the quality bar high.”

From a client perspective, according to the IAM release, Harrity’s “reasonable pricing and outstanding customer service” are notable differentiators, as is the firm’s timeliness, noting, “When an emergency project needs to be completed quickly and done right, it is the only firm to turn to.”

A variety of factors contribute to Harrity’s ability to file top-quality patent after patent, including a unique, uniform writing style, separate teams for drafting and prosecuting applications, a thorough hiring process that brings in top-talent attorneys and support staff from across the nation, a superb training and mentoring program and a rewarding compensation model, and the emerging use of automation software in the patent process.

 

About Harrity & Harrity, LLP:

Harrity & Harrity, headquarted in Fairfax, Va., is a leading patent preparation and prosecution firm specializing in the electrical and mechanical technology areas. Our clients trust in our high-quality work, experienced people, industry-leading innovation, and outstanding service. Harrity actively promotes diversity and inclusion at the firm and throughout the legal industry, with an additional focus on giving back to the community through Harrity 4 Charity. Visit us online at www.HarrityLLP.com

Harrity Continues to Provide Hope Through COVID-19 Relief

In response to the Coronavirus crisis, Harrity 4 Charity—the giving-back initiative of Harrity & Harrity, LLP—has re-designated its priorities to assist people impacted by COVID-19 by creating a fund specifically focused on relief efforts. The fund is used to issue one grant or more per month to struggling restaurants across the country, who then provide thousands of dollars’ worth of redeemable meal vouchers to local food banks and community resource centers where they are distributed to families in need. The firm also selects individuals and families nominated for help by firm employees and associates and provides them with emergency financial relief to offset the virus’s impact, with plans to continue the program through the end of 2020.

“We all know people who are struggling tremendously,” says John Harrity, managing partner of Harrity & Harrity, “but when you hear the personal stories of what people are going through in every community in the country, it’s heart-wrenching. A freshly prepared meal is more than sustenance, it’s a very basic, down-home way to communicate that we care. And we are doing it in a way that also supports restaurant owners and staff whose businesses have been hit by this virus in those same communities.”

The first region to experience Harrity’s generosity was in their own backyard, in Fairfax County, Va, during the month of May. The firm has since expanded the program to offer the same help in other states, specifically in areas that are most vulnerable to economic devastation as a result of the pandemic.

Says Annie, a single grandmother raising her four grandsons, ages 14, 13, 11 and 2, “I never thought I’d have to go to a food bank ever in my life. I don’t like going, but for my grandsons I go, though not every week. If I don’t need it, I don’t go. I am grateful, but I don’t want to be greedy.”

Forced to accept a pay cut in 2017—when an injury sidelined her as an inspector for the housing authority and forced her to take a position as an administrative assistant—Annie has struggled to support her grandchildren and to put dinner on the table.  The COVID-19 pandemic created the added burden of assisting with home schooling the kids, three of whom have learning disabilities.

“In the state of Virginia, they won’t give me food stamps,” she shares. “They say I make too much money. Really, with four children? And there’s no stipend like there would be if they were in foster care. I take primary care of them financially and they are always outgrowing things. But I don’t regret having them. Yes, I get tired and frustrated … But not only did I save them, they saved me too.”

Annie says receiving the vouchers for a take-out family meal from Glory Days restaurant meant “a whole lot” to her.  “When I have extra money, I do take the boys. Monday is $6.99 burger specials. They are very good people and I want them to feel like they are just as important, not less than anyone else.

“It was a blessing and I’m thankful … Just one day I didn’t have to worry about what I was going to cook because I‘m rushing out at six o’clock in the morning and maybe forget to take something out for dinner. The food was delicious and the kids enjoyed it, which really made my day.”

“I was never the kind of person who had to ask for help,” she adds, “but with having the kids, it has really humbled me tremendously.  Things that were a big deal aren’t a big deal anymore.  Sometimes we go through things for a reason, but it’s okay … I don’t mind telling my story because it needs to be told.”

In another part of Virginia, Elsa, a stay-at-home mom, and Jose, a carpenter, are the parents of four sons, ages 10-19. Both Jose and their youngest boy contracted the coronavirus. Although they were thankfully asymptomatic, Jose was furloughed from his job as a carpenter, leaving his family without income. They felt very fortunate to be able to get food on the table through the Lorton Community Action Center and especially when they, too, were given the vouchers for a meal at Glory Days.

“Now that I’m home from work, I can see how exhausting it is for my mom to take care of my brothers,” shares their son, Erik, 19, an apprentice studying to be an electrician, but who is also currently on hiatus due to the pandemic. “We had not left the house in a week when we received the vouchers and we were running low on food.  We were just very thankful that we were able to eat and that Mom didn’t have to cook for us that day.”

For the month of June, the firm brought its COVID-19 relief program to the state of Alabama, where two food banks received grants to feed over 600 families. A new wave of recipients were selected for emergency financial relief and received checks. Some of their stories and more information about our initiatives can be found on our COVID-19 Relief Page.

 

About Harrity 4 Charity

Harrity 4 Charity represents a partnering of law firm Harrity & Harrity, LLP, with charities that are near and dear to our hearts. Harrity pledges to give five percent of profits to partner charities and all Harrity employees pledge to donate a portion of their paychecks. Harrity & Harrity is a patent preparation and prosecution firm specializing in the electrical and mechanical technology areas and is considered a Go-To Firm for the Patent 300™. Our clients have come to trust in our high-quality work, experienced people, industry leading innovation, and outstanding service. For more information, visit harrityllp.com.

 

Shawn Lillemo Co-Presents “The Tech-Enhanced Law Firm” at Legal Marketing Association (LMA) P3 – Virtual Experience

Harrity’s Software Product Manager Shawn Lillemo was recently featured in the Legal Marketing Association (LMA)’s P3 – The Virtual Experience. Shawn co-presented “The Tech-Enhanced Law Firm: Developing Custom Solutions to Supercharge Your Legal Professionals” with Amy Monaghan of Perkins Coie.

The session covered how to build an “unfair” competitive advantage, improve firm efficiency, and provide better client services using custom software solutions, such as Harrity’s proprietary patent drafting automation software, amongst other Harrity and Perkins Coie developments.

“The Tech Enhanced Law Firm” presentation included the following topics:

  1. Legal Innovation – What Asteroid?
  2. Rise of the Robots
  3. Making Legal Superheroes
  4. Sustainable Innovation

R. Amani Smathers, Senior Practice Innovations Specialist at Chapman and Cutler LLP, provided the following feedback regarding the presentation:

“Shawn, your anecdote about the US/European patent filing formats was one of the best examples I’ve heard of the importance of asking ‘why,’ reexamining assumptions, and that sometimes the best solution is ‘no-sourcing’—determining the work doesn’t need to be done by any resource (human or automated) at all.

I also appreciated that in mentioning being willing to fail, you both recognized that we operate in organizations that typically have a lower risk appetite.  So yes, be willing to fail fast—but fail ‘safe.’  Fail small and smart, and internalize your lessons learned.  I think those points often get lost in the popular ‘fail fast’ mantra, which originated in an industry with a higher risk tolerance.”

For more information regarding Harrity’s software, and to watch Shawn’s Automation Drafting Tools Presentation at IPO’s 2019 Annual Meeting, visit our Automation Page.

 

Harrity Ranks as a World Leading Patent Professional on IAM Patent 1000 List

Harrity & Harrity, LLP has been named a “Highly Recommended” firm in the field patent prosecution, according to the newly released 2020 edition of the IAM Patent 1000: The World’s Leading Patent Professionals.

The online publication of the IAM Patent 1000 stated the following in regard to Harrity’s accomplishments in the patent space:

“It is simply amazing what Harrity & Harrity has been able to achieve inthe patent space by applying a carefully thought-out lean manufacturing style system to file vast numbers of patents while maintaining quality of the highest order. Clever use of automation and a uniform writing style play into its efficiency, while a rigorous second-attorney review system helps to set the quality bar high.

The compact boutique has worked other magic, too: its dedicated patent analytics group, headed by Rocky Berndsen, has been delving into all sorts of statistics to bring a unique level of industry insight to clients.

None of this has gone unnoticed by competitors: “It is growing faster than any similarly sized peer and runs an impressive recruiting programme that precisely identifies people who will thrive in its system. The efficiency tools it has invested in are also excellent. Harrity & Harrity just gets prosecution and patents.”

From a client perspective, its “reasonable pricing and outstanding customer service” are major plus points, as is its nimbleness: “When an emergency project needs to be completed quickly and done right, it is the only firm to turn to.”

Another feather in the outfit’s cap is its admirable proactivity with respect to diversity in the IP profession. In 2019 it launched the Harrity Minority Firm Incubator, which trains attorneys from minority backgrounds in prep and pros and law firm management; at the end of the four-year programme, those schooled under it will establish their own patent boutiques. The genius architects of all this success are John HarrityPaul Harrity and Paul Gurzo.”

 

About the IAM Patent 1000
(source: IAM Media)

The IAM Patent 1000 is commonly regarded as the definitive ‘go-to’ resource for those seeking to identify world-class, private practice patent expertise and leading expert witnesses in the US. As with previous editions, to arrive at the 2020 rankings, IAM undertook an exhaustive qualitative research project to identify outstanding firms and individuals across multiple jurisdictions. When identifying the leading firms, factors such as depth of knowledge, market presence and the level of work on which they are typically instructed were all taken into account, as well as positive peer and client feedback.

Over five months, IAM conducted in the region of 1,800 interviews with numerous attorneys at law, patent attorneys and in-house counsel to gather market intelligence on the leading players in the field. Individuals qualify for a listing in the IAM Patent 1000 when they receive sufficient positive feedback from peers and clients with knowledge of their practice and the market within which they operate. In those markets in which practitioners have narrowed the focus of their work, we have presented tables highlighting the leaders in the respective areas of prosecution, transactions and litigation. Only those individuals identified by market sources for their exceptional skill sets and profound insights into patent matters feature in the IAM Patent 1000.

We have also identified the leading firms in the market – similarly listing them, where appropriate, in prosecution, transactions and litigation tables – as it is clear that the depth of expertise that a firm can offer beyond and in support of its star practitioners is an important factor in the decision to instruct. Firms qualify for a listing on the basis of their depth of expertise, market presence and the level of work on which they are typically engaged.

Our aim is to ensure that the IAM Patent 1000 is as accurate as possible. We seek to produce the definitive list of the world’s leading patent experts, on the basis of feedback received from those operating in the market. If you disagree with the opinions we have presented, we would like to hear from you. Our guarantee is that we will further research your input and so improve the list in the future.

All names and individual positions at firms are correct to the best of our knowledge as of 15 April 2020. In instances where a firm has merged or subsequently dissolved, or individuals have moved, these changes will be reflected in the next edition of the IAM Patent 1000.

 

About Harrity & Harrity, LLP

Harrity & Harrity is a leading patent preparation and prosecution firm specializing in the electrical and mechanical technology areas, and is considered a Go-To Firm for the Patent 300™.  Their clients trust in their high-quality work, experienced people, industry leading innovation, and outstanding service.

 

Fairfax Lawyer Helps Fund Restaurants During COVID-19

Virginia Lawyers Weekly, WASHINGTON, DC (June 15th, 2020) A Fairfax attorney is using his charity organization to help community members suffering from the financial impacts of COVID-19.

In 2016, John Harrity, managing partner of Harrity & Harrity, nearly died at 49 from a “widowmaker” — a heart attack resulting in the complete closure of the left anterior coronary artery that often results in instant death. Given a million-to-one odds of survival, Harrity decided to turn such a negative experience into something good.

Soon after, Harrity 4 Charity, or H4C, was born.

“I thought, if I just get through this process and eventually go back to work and just go back as if nothing happened, then I will have wasted this entire experience,” Harrity said.

In the four years since its founding, H4C has worked as a tangential organization of Harrity’s firm to donate 5% of its profits to multiple causes, including the American Heart Association and Zero – the End of Prostate Cancer.

“Every employee of my firm gives a portion of their paycheck to our partner charities,” Harrity said. “We wouldn’t hire someone that wouldn’t be willing to make that commitment. That’s how important it is for us.”

Since the outbreak of the coronavirus, H4C, now independent from Harrity’s firm, has “redesigned” its priorities to create a fund for individuals that are struggling financially during these times. In the past few months, Harrity has used his organization to create grants for struggling local restaurants — including Glory Days Grill in Fairfax.

“We thought, OK, we’ve been giving to charities, and that’s good, but I think we need to pivot and help people who have been financially impacted,” Harrity said.

Therefore last month, Harrity teamed up with the Glory Days Grill owners to create a system in which the restaurant provided 157 meal vouchers to local food banks that could be brought to the restaurant and exchanged for a meal for a family of four.

“The [community] response has been overwhelming. People are so grateful that we are helping them,” said Sandra Maxey, controller for H4C.

One Fairfax resident that benefited from a meal voucher is Elsa. Last month, the youngest of her four sons tested positive for COVID-19. Because her family has to stay home for at least two weeks following his diagnosis, they were unable to work and struggled to afford groceries.

“The Glory Days Grill donation came to us at the best time where we could sit down as a family and enjoy a meal together,” Elsa said.

Harrity said he wanted to make a charitable contribution directly connected to his firm, as well. Therefore, he had his 55 employees compile a list of all the individuals they knew of that are struggling financially during this time.

The firm has since sent a first round of checks to those individuals to help alleviate financial stress, with a second round being sent in the upcoming weeks.

“Our intention with that is that we will continue to do it for as long as there’s an issue,” Harrity said.

Maxey said that the organization is currently in the process of creating an additional program to help feed first responders.

Harrity said he wants to help those outside of Virginia, as well. Therefore, with two employees working remotely in Alabama, H4C has begun giving to food banks there.

“We’re going to continue to do this through the end of the year,” Harrity said.

 

About Harrity 4 Charity

Harrity 4 Charity represents a partnering of law firm Harrity & Harrity, LLP, with charities that are near and dear to our hearts. Harrity pledges to give five percent of profits to partner charities and all Harrity employees pledge to donate a portion of their paychecks. Harrity & Harrity is a patent preparation and prosecution firm specializing in the electrical and mechanical technology areas and is considered a Go-To Firm for the Patent 300™. Our clients have come to trust in our high-quality work, experienced people, industry leading innovation, and outstanding service. For more information, visit harrityllp.com.

Product Success Can Show Nonobviousness

By Patrick Hansen, Associate

The U.S. Supreme Court’s KSR decision has left an impression that any claimed invention based on a combination of known, related features is likely obvious under 35 U.S.C. § 103.  The recent Fox Factory, Inc. v. SRAM, LLC (Fed. Cir. May 18, 2020) decision is a heartening reminder that is not always the case.  In Fox Factory, the Federal Circuit affirmed a Board holding that claims 1-26 of U.S. Patent 9,291,250 (‘250 patent) are not unpatentable as obvious under Section 103.  What makes this decision reassuring for patent owners and applicants is that the Federal Circuit upheld SRAM’s ‘250 patent based on objective indicia of nonobviousness (also known as secondary considerations).

Fox Factory and SRAM are bicycle competitors, and SRAM’s ‘250 patent is directed to a single chainring of a bicycle that does not switch a chain between multiple chainrings.  The single chainring has teeth that fit more snugly into chain link spaces, and the single chainring (marketed as “X-Sync”) has been praised for retaining the chain in poor cycling conditions.

As shown in Fig. 1 from the ‘250 patent, link spaces alternate in size (D1 or D2) due to the manner in which pieces of a chain are linked.Claim 1 of the ‘250 patent recites a chainring with wider teeth of a first size that alternates with teeth of a second size, in order to snugly fit into respective outer (D2) and inner (D1) link spaces.  In particular, claim 1 recites that a wider tooth is designed to fill, at the midpoint, at least 80% of an outer link space.

SRAM asserted the ‘250 patent against Fox Factory in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.  In a corresponding inter partes review (IPR) proceeding, Fox Factory cited Japanese patent publication JP S56-42489 (“Shimano”) and U.S. Patent 3,375,022 (“Hattan”).  Shimano describes a chainring with widened teeth for wider link spaces, and Hattan describes filling link spaces between 74.6% and 96% of a space width at the bottom of a tooth.  Fox Factory argued that it would have been obvious to a skilled artisan to see the utility in designing a chainring with widened teeth to improve chain retention and to look to Hattan for filling the link space at least 80%.  However, the Board found that Hattan’s fill percentages applied to the bottom of a tooth rather than the midpoint of the tooth.  Notably, the Board found that SRAM’s evidence of secondary considerations rebutted Fox Factory’s argument that a skilled artisan would nevertheless find it obvious to modify Shimano’s chainring teeth to fill at least 80% of a wide link space at the middle of a tooth.  Judge Lourie, writing for the Federal Circuit panel that included Judges Mayer and Wallach, affirmed the Board’s decision.

As you may recall, the Graham v. John Deere Co., 383 U.S. 1 (1966) analysis includes four factors: (1) the scope and content of the prior art; (2) the differences between the prior art and the patent claims; (3) the level of ordinary skill in the art; and (4) secondary considerations (also known more favorably as objective indicia of nonobviousness).  All four factors are to be evaluated collectively before a conclusion on obviousness is reached, and the burden of proof remains with the patent challenger.  Fox Factory argued that the only difference at issue is the degree to which a wider link space is filled, measured halfway up the tooth.  Fox Factory also argued that the Board erred in presuming a nexus between the claimed invention and evidence of success, arguing that it is the tall hooked teeth that drove the X-Sync chainring to be successful.

While acknowledging that a mere change in proportion may not meet the level of invention required by Section 103, the Federal Circuit agreed with the Board that SRAM’s design of the X-Sync chainring teeth, as claimed, displayed significant invention.  The X-Sync chainring’s success surprised skilled artisans who were skeptical about it solving the long-felt need of chain retention.  In fact, the industry awarded the X-Sync chainring “Innovation of the Year.”

The Federal Circuit found that the X-Sync chainring and the ‘250 claims met the nexus requirement – that a product from which the secondary considerations arose is “co-extensive” with the claimed invention.  The Federal Circuit also stated that the unclaimed features, such as the hooks and protrusions of the teeth, are to some extent incorporated into the >80% fill requirement.  The Federal Circuit concluded that substantial evidence supports the Board’s determination that a nexus exists between the X-Sync chainring’s success and the teeth profile that is essentially the claimed invention.

While Fox Factory does not present any new rule, it is a reminder that patent owners and applicants should keep records indicating a long-felt need and any industry skepticism, as well as records of subsequent success of a product to which claims are directed.  Claim drafters should learn from inventors which features could contribute to a product’s commercial success or acclamation.  Fox Factory reassures us that objective indicia of nonobviousness can still be a meaningful consideration at the Board and the Federal Circuit, even over what may be argued to be routine optimization.

 

Sarah Tsou – Patent Litigation Funding: Clause 8, Episode 19

This episode features an interview with Sarah Tsou, who is an investment manager for patent litigation at the world’s leading litigation funder, Bentham IMF (now part of Omni Bridgeway Limited).

The playbook is simple for deep-pocketed defendants facing lawsuits from patent owners with limited resources. Even if a patent owner has a very strong case, the defendant can just drag the case out long enough until the patent owner and his lawyers run out of resources to continue. At best, the patent owners are forced to settle lawsuits for a fraction of what they think they are owed. Patent litigation funders have changed this calculus by providing select patent owners with enough resources.

During this episode, Sarah talks about:

  • becoming a patent litigation partner at Kirkland & Ellis and working with John Desmarais before he started his firm focusing on patent monetization;
  • how patent litigation funding can help in-house attorneys who are facing shrinking patent litigation budgets due to the Covid-19 pandemic;
  • what 1% of cases have the rare mix of merits and economics to receive funding from top litigation funders, including a discussion of specific amounts of potential damages and legal fees;
  • how she finds the cases that she funds;
  • why having the right patent litigation attorneys who are willing to share the risk is crucial;
  • what a Chief IP Counsel should think about when building a patent portfolio if he’s interested in possibly taking advantage of patent litigation funding in the future;
  • the importance of curiosity for junior attorneys who want to enter the litigation funding field;
  • and much more!

Listen and subscribe on IPwatchdog.com or your favorite podcasting app!

 

Harrity Ranked #2 in Patent Bots Quality Scores

Harrity & Harrity has been listed as a top-ranking firm in Patent Bots’ recently released Quality Scores report.

Overall, Harrity ranked #2 out of 802 firms reviewed for the Patent Bots Quality Scores report, with an average score of 98.93/100 across 528 issued patents, which was also one of the largest sample sizes recorded. Patent Bots Quality Scores are based on the average number of errors found in issued patents. Scores are calculated using automated patent proofreading to process issued patents and included all issued patents for the year ending March 31, 2020.

Harrity ranked #1 in the following technology centers:

  • Computer Architecture and Software (99.38)
  • Networking, Multiplexing, Cable, and Security (99.92)
  • Transportation, Construction, Electronic Commerce, Agriculture, National Security and License and Review (99.41)

Harrity additionally ranked 2nd in Communications (99.91) and 9th in Semiconductors/Memory, Circuits/Measuring and Testing, Optics/Photocopying, Printing/Measuring and Testing (96.28).

To view the full rankings, visit https://www.patentbots.com/firms/.

About Harrity & Harrity, LLP

Harrity & Harrity is a leading patent preparation and prosecution firm specializing in the electrical and mechanical technology areas, and is considered a Go-To Firm for the Patent 300™.  Their clients trust in their high-quality work, experienced people, industry leading innovation, and outstanding service.

 

Brian Pomper – The Innovation Alliance: Clause 8, Episode 18

This episode of Clause 8 features an interview with Brian Pomper of the Innovation Alliance.

Thomas Edison, the Wright Brothers, and Charles Goodyear are some of America’s best-known innovators. Instead of just making and selling the final products, they obtained patents and licensed their innovations to manufacturers. American companies like IBM, Qualcomm, and Dolby have followed this great American tradition of focusing on innovation.

However, the patent troll narrative has undermined the idea that innovators should be incentivized and rewarded for their efforts. A string of Supreme Court decisions and the passage of the American Invents Act were part of an effort to deal with the so-called “patent troll” problem.

Around the time that the AIA was being debated in Congress, a diverse group of technology companies that focus on research and development formed the Innovation Alliance to educate DC policymakers.

And, Brian – a registered patent attorney who worked for several years on Capitol Hill – became the executive director of Innovation Alliance shortly after it was started.

During this episode, Brian discusses:
• working in Congress and how he became the head of The Innovation Alliance;
• the #1 way to improve the patent system;
• what unites the Innovation Alliance;
• how the Innovation Alliance tried to improve the AIA;
• the Obama administration’s continued efforts to restrict patent rights;
• how DC became more patent friendly;
• the Senate IP subcommittee and why there’s still hope for legislative action to fix patent eligibility;
• importance of having grassroots support for legislative efforts;
• the impact that the Covid-19 pandemic is having on the patent policy debate and the Open Covid Pledge; and
• much more!

Listen and subscribe on IPwatchdog.com or your favorite podcasting app!

 

Harrity & Harrity’s First Virtual Women’s Workshop

By Elaine Spector

Harrity & Harrity just completed its 3nd Annual Women’s Workshop.  Due to the quarantine, we shifted gears to host our Women’s Workshop virtually for the first time, which allowed us to offer more women seats in our program.  The Women’s Workshop is part of Harrity’s Diversity Initiative, whose Diversity Mission is to “promote and nurture a respectful, highly engaged, family friendly, and inclusive culture that values the diversity of our talented team with diverse backgrounds, experiences, perspectives, skills/talents, and capabilities.”  35 women, including recent law school graduates and current law students, participated in a 3 ½ day long workshop. The interactive programs included patent preparation and prosecution skills training, resume and interview preparation, and sessions with prominent women guest speakers in the intellectual property field.  Ed Good joined us this year to provide a ½ day seminar in effective legal writing.

The guest speakers ranged from IP partners at major law firms (both litigation and prosecution partners), former leaders at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Chief IP Counsel and IP Counsel at major corporations, and leaders within Diversity and Inclusion organizations. The speakers included Barbara Fiacco, a partner at Foley Hoag LLP and AIPLA’s President, Barbara Fisher, Assistant General Counsel, Intellectual Property and Technology Law for Lockheed Martin Corporation, Courtney Holohan, Accenture’s Chief Intellectual Property Counsel, Mercedes Meyer, a Partner at the law firm Faegre Drinker, Sophia Piliouras, president of MCCA’s Advisory Practice at the Minority Corporate Counsel Association (MCCA), Teresa ‘Terry’ Stanek Rea, a Partner at the law firm Cromwell & Moring and former acting and deputy director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), and Ellen Smith, a Partner at the law firm Sughrue Mion.

A favorite session among the participants was the Drafting 101 session with Harrity attorney, Peter Glaser.  The participants were taken through the application drafting process. Another favorite session was led by Harrity attorney, Tim Hirzel, who instructed the participants on patent prosecution.  Both sessions included a hands-on training assignment, which was reviewed by their instructors to maximize learning opportunities.

The session also included two-hour Q & A with Harrity attorneys, which included partners John Harrity, Paul Harrity, and Paul Gurzo.  John and Paul Harrity both agreed that their best career advice includes reading as much as possible with a focus on continued learning.  We hope the participants had a great time, and we are looking forward to next year’s workshop!

Average Claims and Figures

Visualizing Patent Claims and Figures Over Time

How have the number of patent claims and patent figures changed over time?

Let’s let the numbers speak for themselves.  I recommend that you use the full screen mode for this visualization.  Click on the full screen icon on the right.

The interactive visualization above provides a clear indication that at a high level for US utility patents, the average number of claims have gone down over time, while the average number of figures have gone up.  In 2005, the average number of claims per patent was 18.83, while the average number of figures was 12.04.  Compare that to 2019, where the average number of claims per patent was 16.22, and the average number of figures was 14.84.

The reasons for these changes are open to interpretation but the data shows some very interesting outliers to the averages when you slice the data by art unit.  For example, when you look at the business method art units of 3621-3629, the data shows the exact opposite from the entire patent field as a whole.  In 2006, the average number of claims per patent was 24.83, and the average number of figures was 17.00.

The xml data powering the Power BI visualization above is automatically downloaded weekly by our patent analytics system from the USPTO using the Bulk Data Storage System.

To learn more about how you can use patent analytics to inform your practice, visit our Patent Analytics website HERE.

 

The Benefits of Incubator Programs for Minority-Owned Firms

The legal profession is making inroads in terms of diversity, but the National Association of Law Placement reports these gains as slow and incremental. The percentage of African-American associates, for instance, was 4.76% last year, finally breaching the previous milestone mark of 4.66% recorded in 2009. Unfortunately, women of color remain grossly under-represented, accounting for only 2.8% of associates last year — down from 2.93% in 2009. Clearly, the legal profession remains one of the least diverse industries, even with institutions like Harvard Law School reporting ever-increasing minority representation.

Invariably, this lack of diversity can only be addressed through change leadership and decisive action, like implementing diversity initiatives and offering incubator programs for minority-owned firms. This desire to make a difference compelled Harrity & Harrity managing partner John Harrity to incubate women- and minority-owned law firms. The legal industry needs more people like Harrity, with Maryville University noting that a change in society comes from those who have the courage to make a difference. This is why more people and industries need to grapple with social inequalities such as under-representation in various professions. But why are incubator programs important, and what are their benefits to minority-owned firms?

Giving necessary support

Incubator programs are vital because they can help jumpstart a firm in the same way venture capital funding helps startups level up their operations. This aid is the main benefit of incubator programs, which support up-and-coming law firms by providing a range of resources such as office space and professional services for a reasonable fee that is often paid out in installments or via negotiated arrangements. This support is invaluable to minority-owned firms, as they are more likely to have less capital and fewer resources to run a sustainable business.

Helping a firm focus on the core business

Crucially, being part of an incubator program can also help minority-owned law firms focus on their core business, which is to provide top legal services to their clientele. This is possible because the program already puts in place the necessary infrastructure to get the firm up and running. This gives all members the ability to fully focus on their cases, as they are freed up from having to accomplish mundane, day-to-day administrative tasks.

Expanding the network

Fast Company details how membership in an incubator program means gaining access to a strong professional network, including industry partners. This network expansion, in turn, opens up plenty of exciting possibilities, like collaborating with big firms, that are often non-existent for a firm in its infancy, especially if the firm is minority- or women-owned. Not to mention, being part of a growing network is also a public relations coup, as associations with bigger firms can help raise the profile of a smaller ones — without necessarily investing a fortune in marketing and PR.

Access to mentors

Another thing about being part of an incubator program is that it gives a firm access to mentors, who can then provide expert knowledge not only on the legal profession, but also on the best practices in terms of running a law firm. Take, for instance, the Minority Firm Incubator program, which is now accepting applicants for its second participant and whose goals include training, developing, and launching minority-owned patent law firms. As such, Harrity & Harrity’s finest get involved in the program and provide guidance to all participants — and by year 4, they already have the necessary knowledge to fully launch their firms.

A final word

We at Harrity & Harrity are committed to promoting diversity in the legal industry, and will continue to nurture our minority-focused programs and their participants to effect change. We hope that initiatives, like our Minority Firm Incubator, will not just begin to address the issue, but inspire others to be change leaders in diversity as well.

By Sharon Drew
Written exclusively for Harrityllp.com

Learn more and/or apply to the 2020 Minority Firm Incubator program HERE.

30 Day Challenge in Support of the Lawyers Have Heart 10K Race, 5K Run and Walk

By Roxana Hoveyda

Will you share your #RUNLHH? Run and walk with us from wherever you are!

30 Day Challenge in Support of the Lawyers Have Heart 10K Race, 5K Run and Walk has Kicked off!

Save the Date to #RUNLHH!

Thousands of people across America are participating in a month of physical activity, culminating in a virtual running and walking event on June 12-14.  The 30-day challenge is encouraging people to stay active and raising crucial funds for the American Heart Association.

Keeping active is central to maintaining a healthy lifestyle.  The American Heart Association has embraced the new normal of social distancing, and created a month of challenges that can be undertaken whilst abiding by the current restrictions, designed to help people stay active during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

The final challenge will be a virtual running and walking event, where participants will run the 10K or 5K or join a fun walk, completing their route individually and sharing their time on a virtual leader board.  Participants are encouraged to share their experience on social media by using the hashtag #RUNLHH and follow along on social media.

The run and the 30-day challenge are all part of AHA’s annual Lawyers Have Heart event.  Lawyers Have Heart began in 1991 as a running and walking event for the legal community, and has evolved into a staple on DC’s running calendar attracting runners and walkers of all levels of experience and from all walks of life.

Event Co-Chair, John Harrity of Harrity & Harrity, LLP said, “This event has always been about encouraging heart-healthy lifestyles and raising vital funds for education and research.  Now faced with new challenges, here’s a great way to keep active for a month, and for runners and walkers of all ages and abilities to “virtually” come together in support of the American Heart Association.  By going virtual, we look forward to welcoming teams and families from around the world!”

The 30-day challenge has a new challenge each day to keep people active, and keep them motivated to live healthier lives whilst living under stay at home orders.  Whether it’s walking 10,000 steps, doing a 30 second plank or preparing a new healthy recipe for dinner, there are new ideas each day leading up to the virtual run.  In addition, there are tips to help raise money for AHA’s life-saving research and education programs.

Harrity adds, “As a survivor myself, the AHA’s mission is more important now than ever. Millions of people are counting on them for science-based information, health resources, community programs and patient support. We need to rally together to raise money for this critical cause.”

Since 1991, the event has raised over $15 million, with this year’s event aiming to raise $1.4 million.  Co-Chairs of the event are Harrity & Harrity LLP’s  Managing Partner, John Harrity, and Controller, Sandra Maxey.

To register for the 30-day challenge, donate, and find out more information, check out the event’s website for all the details www.lawyershaveheartdc.org.

Join Team Harrity! Click here to register!

Follow along through the Facebook page, on Twitter, and on Instagram.  Share your experience using #RUNLHH and #MoveMore!

About Harrity 4 Charity

Harrity 4 Charity represents a partnering of law firm Harrity & Harrity, LLP, with charities that are near and dear to our hearts. Harrity partners pledge to give five percent of profits to partner charities and all Harrity employees pledge to donate a portion of their paychecks. Harrity & Harrity is a patent preparation and prosecution firm specializing in the electrical and mechanical technology areas and is considered a Go-To Firm for the Patent 300™. Our clients have come to trust in our high-quality work, experienced people, industry leading innovation, and outstanding service. For more information, visit harrityllp.com.

Paul Harrity Consecutively Named a Global IP Star

Harrity & Harrity is pleased to announce that Partner Paul Harrity was recently selected by Managing Intellectual Property, the leading specialist guide to IP law firms and practitioners worldwide, as a 2020/2021 “Patent Star.”  Paul was recognized as a Virginia practitioner in the areas of patent prosecution, patent strategy and counseling for the second year in a row. The annual “IP Stars” list recognizes leading lawyers and law firms for intellectual property work in more than 125 jurisdictions.

Paul is a patent attorney in the firm’s Fairfax, Virginia, office, where he focuses on preparing and prosecuting patent applications.  He began his career in 1991 as a patent agent at the United States Patent and Trade Office.  Since leaving the USPTO, Paul has prepared hundreds of patent applications and thousands of Patent Office responses.

Frank Jakes, Legendary Trial Attorney – Clause 8 – Episode 16

This episode of Clause 8 features an interview with trial attorney Frank Jakes – the founder of the Intellectual Property Group at the firm of Johnson Pope in Tampa, FL. There’s a good chance that you have recently seen him questioning Joe Exotic in the Netflix documentary Tiger King. However, even before successfully representing Carole Baskin and Big Cat Rescue, Frank Jakes was already a legendary trial attorney in Tampa who handled lots of cases involving high-profile parties and interesting personalities and won many millions of dollars in verdicts. Many of those cases involved a wide variety of IP rights.

Listen and subscribe on IPwatchdog.com.

 

This week in Amazon Patents – 4/21/2020

Amazon innovates in a wide range of technology areas including e-commerce, logistics, uavs, robotics, networking, cybersecurity, cloud technology and more.  This week, I review the patents obtained by Amazon and summarize the technology areas covered by their patents, as well as, highlight one or two interesting technologies.

Weekly Summary

Amazon obtained 43 US utility patents and 3 US design patents.  Networking technology is the largest area with 9 patents, followed by virtual machines with 3.  There are several patents in the areas of uav/robot delivery and warehouse robots.  See table for a summary of the technologies where Amazon obtained patents.

Interesting Patent

One interesting patent this week is patent 10,628,790 titled “Automated floor expansion using an unmanned fiducial marker placement unit”.  This invention describes how an unmanned robot can expand the floor of a warehouse by placing fiducial markers on the floor instead of a human being having to place the markers on the floor.

Amazon continues to innovate by introducing automation and unmanned robots throughout the inventory management and logistics.

For more information about any of these technology areas or for a patent analysis on Amazon’s patent portfolio, please reach out to me via email at rberndsen@harrityllp.com.

Harrity’s Third Annual Women’s Workshop

With COVID-19 sending everyone into lockdown, you may find yourself looking for something productive to do.  Now is a great time to learn something new.  Particularly since many events that would not typically be found online are now offering free virtual versions via live streaming and video conferencing.  The ability to get online provides access to innumerable resources to stay entertained and learn new skills.  It is the ideal time to reconnect with your goals and start achieving them.  For those interested in patent law, IP firm Harrity & Harrity, LLP is one of those resources.

Harrity’s Women’s Workshop

In response to the current climate, Harrity will host its third annual Women’s Workshop as an online program.  The workshop is a rare opportunity to learn basic patent preparation and prosecution skills, interact with some of the most prominent female patent lawyers in the industry, network with a diverse group of participants, meet with a writing coach, have live Q&A’s with practicing patent attorneys, access free career mentoring, and more.  The four-day program will take place May 18-21 and will be held live through online video conferencing.  It is entirely free and is available to engineers and law students or recent graduates with technical backgrounds who are interested in pursuing a future in intellectual property.  The program will allow participants to explore the lucrative opportunities provided by a career in patent law and learn what it takes to succeed, specifically as a female, in the patent field.

Why Attend the Program?

Obtaining a patent can be a complex process and requires several steps, including searching prior art, determining patentability, preparing and filing a patent application, and corresponding with the patent office through patent prosecution.  It can be a particular struggle to determine whether an invention is a new, non-obvious invention and how it differs from existing patented concepts when attempting to obtain a patent.

In Harrity’s Women’s Workshop, you will learn how to effectively draft and prosecute patent applications in order to get the patents allowed by the USPTO, an action that will officially patent an invention.  The skills to do so will be learned through a series of presentations, discussions, and practice assignments throughout the immersive program.

Speakers for the 2020 Women’s Workshop include female partners at top patent firms, the American Intellectual Property Law  Association’s (AIPLA) President Elect, IP Counsel for leading technology companies, the President of the Minority Corporate Counsel Association’s (MCCA) Advisory Practice, and the former acting director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office.  Each speaker will provide guidance on best practices in patent law and exclusive advice on how to succeed as a woman in this underrepresented industry.

For the first time, the 2020 Women’s Workshop will also include writing skills training by writing expert, Ed Good.  Ed is a globally recognized trainer in corporate writing skills with specific expertise in legal writing.  The program will also include resume and interview preparation and career mentoring for success in the patent field.

Upon completion of this workshop, participants will have a thorough understanding of what a career in patent law entails and have the tools required to pursue one.

Our Mission

At Harrity, We believe that the ‘practice of law’ is advanced by a more diverse legal team – with diversity of background, upbringing, education, and perspective comes quality legal innovation.  Our mission is to promote and nurture a respectful, highly engaged, family friendly, and inclusive culture that values the diversity of our talented team with diverse backgrounds, experiences, perspectives, skills/talents, and capabilities.

The Annual Women’s Workshop is part of our ongoing diversity initiative aimed to increase the number of women practicing in the IP legal field and climbing the ladder to success.  Harrity’s previous workshops are highly rated and recommended by past participants.

The virtual workshop will take place from May 18-21st and is completely free. Whether you are a science or engineering major, current student at a law school, or practicing attorney interested in intellectual property, the Harrity Women’s Workshop is a can’t-miss opportunity.  The application deadline to participate is April 30th, so don’t delay- Apply Now!

Sara Stesney Offers Management Advice in “Leadership Freak” Blog

DEAR DAN: I HAVE AN EMPLOYEE WHO MAKES REPEATED MISTAKES

As published in the “Leadership Freak” blog by Dan Rockwell (April 16, 2020)

Dear Dan,

I have an employee who rushes through her work. I’ve tried to get her to slow down, but she is always worried about getting in trouble for not getting work done. She has never gotten into trouble for not getting work done while working for me.

When she rushes, she makes mistakes on things that she has done correctly, in the past, for years. How do you help this sort of employee? I know she has anxiety and in reading this I am now wondering if there is a correlation. Any advice?

Seeking Advice

Dear Seeking,

Sometimes we cause our own frustrations.

Self-inflicted frustration:

Don’t blame your employee for a situation you’ve been tolerating. We cause our own frustration when we:

  1. Respond the same way to repeated mistakes.
  2. Hope patience will resolve issues without intervention.
  3. Delegate tasks to people who consistently drop the ball.

An employee’s repeated mistakes reflect on the person who manages them.

Boredom:

What if it’s boredom? If she’s done things correctly for years, maybe she needs new responsibilities.

  1. How might you redesign her job?
  2. Who might be able to assume some of her current responsibilities so she can focus on something new?
  3. How satisfied is she with her current job on a scale of 1:10? If she is dissatisfied, but is reluctant to speak up, how might you begin crafting a new future for/with her?

Suggestions from Sara:

I reached out to Sara Stesney for her suggestions. I’ve worked with Sara and know that she manages in an area that requires precision.

Sara shared an illustration that might help your employee grasp the importance of quality.

Sara said, “If you went to McDonalds and ordered food, would you rather have the food come out REALLY FAST and be completely wrong or would you rather the food come out in a reasonable amount of time and be perfect?”

Sara added two more suggestions.

  1. Ask your employee to compete her work, set it aside, and review it for mistakes later.
  2. Help your employee learn by finding and correcting her own mistakes. Don’t point out mistakes. Say, “This work has mistakes. I need to know you can find your own mistakes. Please find and correct them.”

You have my best,

Dan

Read more advice from Dan Rockwell on his blog, Leadership Freak.

 

Your Licensees’ Patent Marking Program is Also Your Concern

By McCord Rayburn, Associate

As an in-house IP attorney, you may take comfort in knowing that your patent marking program is thorough, well-established, and properly executed. You have standardized procedures to determine which patents cover which products. You monitor product release dates to ensure appropriate marking. You have set up a “virtual marking” website to take advantage of this form of marking established by the America Invents Act (AIA). You regularly update the virtual marking website to remove expired patents and add newly granted patents. Your patent marking program is a well-oiled machine. But what about your licensees’ patent marking programs? Do you know anything about your licensees’ patent marking programs? Do you even care about your licensees’ patent marking programs? Well, you should, and the Federal Circuit recently provided another opinion to remind patent licensors that a licensee’s failure to mark can be costly.

Continue Reading on IPWatchdog.com.

Counsel Who Care: How Attys Are Helping During Virus Crisis

Law360 (April 7, 2020) — As coronavirus cases have spiked, law firms across the nation have been stepping up to help, from providing pro bono legal assistance to fundraisers and donations. Here, Law360 rounds up some of the latest charity efforts from the legal community in response to the pandemic.

 

[CLIPPED]

Donations, Funds Established By Firms

Virginia-based patent boutique Harrity & Harrity LLP has redirected its charity initiative, Harrity 4 Charity, to help those affected by the pandemic.

While the firm has not yet announced the recipients of the fund, it said in an announcement last week that the initiative will focus on helping families and individuals who have been laid off or lost their jobs and single parents or families struggling to provide for their children as a result of COVID-19.

“As a result of the current pandemic, we have decided to pause our contributions to our partner charities and instead get our Harrity 4 Charity dollars out into the communities to help people who have been financially impacted by the coronavirus,” managing partner John Harrity said in a statement.

The firm had been donating 5% of its profits to four charitable organizations: American Heart Association, Inova Children’s Hospital, ZERO — The End of Prostate Cancer, and No More Stolen Childhoods, a nonprofit organization dedicated to changing the public perception of childhood sexual abuse.

The law firm also plans to establish restaurant-run food banks to help businesses who are suffering from a lack of customers, while providing free meals to people who cannot afford them.

 

Read the full article on Law360 here.

 

About Harrity 4 Charity

Harrity 4 Charity represents a partnering of law firm Harrity & Harrity, LLP, with charities that are near and dear to our hearts. Harrity pledges to give five percent of profits to partner charities and all Harrity employees pledge to donate a portion of their paychecks. Harrity & Harrity is a patent preparation and prosecution firm specializing in the electrical and mechanical technology areas and is considered a Go-To Firm for the Patent 300™. Our clients have come to trust in our high-quality work, experienced people, industry leading innovation, and outstanding service. For more information, visit harrityllp.com.

Concerns as Non-coronavirus Emergency Room Visits Fall Across DC Region

As the number of Coronavirus cases climb, there are new concerns that non-COVID19 medical emergencies are being ignored, not by doctors but by patients themselves.

 

 

“There is a large number of patients who have health emergencies and we’re concerned that those individuals may be avoiding medical care and trying to manage their symptoms at home when they’d be best served getting help at a hospital, and these conditions could worsen and be very harmful in the long term,” said Dr. Deborah Vinton, Emergency Medicine Director at the University of Virginia health system.

ER doctors across the DC region are seeing a drastic decrease in their non-coronavirus ER cases in the past month. At the University of Virginia health system, health officials have seen more than a 50% drop, and they believe it’s directly tied to the fact that people are so afraid they’ll get coronavirus that they’re ignoring their symptoms and not going into the ER, which could have dire consequences

“I’ve been in the house. My kids are in the house. My wife is in the house yes there’s a fear of going out, I just don’t want based on my underlying condition of heart disease to develop this….the front line is at those hospitals, and that’s the last place you want to go,” said John Harrity of Virginia.

Harrity is one of thousands of people across the DMV with underlying conditions who are doing everything they can to stay at home and not expose themselves to coronavirus.

But Harrity said he’s fearful. Four years ago in 2016 when he was 49 years old, Harrity was playing basketball when he had a major heart attack that almost took his life. And while he’s scared of stepping foot into a hospital right now in this world of Covid19, he says if he didn’t get the medical care he needed, and as quickly as he did, his outcome could have been a lot different.

“I had the worst heart attack you could have, it’s called the widow-maker. My friends acted very quickly, they called 9-1-1 and that’s the reason I’m here today,” said Harrity.

“If patients are experiencing symptoms that could be early appendicitis or chest pains related to heart problems we absolutely want them to come in and be assessed early, waiting on those type of symptoms can lead to catastrophic outcomes and be life threatening,” said Dr. Vinton.

“It is not a time for them to stay at home because what we fear is that people will stay at home have a stroke or a heart attack and then they become more disabled,” said Pat Lane, VP of Neuroscience with INOVA health system.

Doctors and health experts are urging everyone to look out for some key symptoms including:

  • Loss of Balance
  • Eye sight issues
  • Facial drooping
  • Tingling down your arm
  • Having trouble with your speech
  • Chest pain
  • Severe Abdominal pain/ inability to eat

Dr. Vinton and Pat Lane are reassuring patients that coming into the hospital is safe and that their hospitals are prepared to keep patients protected from Covid19.

“We can reassure them that we use a lot of protective equipment excellent, cleaning measures and we actually separate our population of patients based on the symptoms that they have so they don’t have to intermingle with those who’ve contracted coronavirus,” said Dr. Vinton.

Even though healthcare systems are stressed, you are urged to go to the ER if you have symptoms. Most hospitals are screening patients right outside the ER entrance.

 

In Response to the COVID-19 Outbreak, USPTO Extends Certain Patent Deadlines

By Ted Nissly, Associate

On Tuesday, March 31, 2020, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) announced that it has exercised its authority under section 12004 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) to make 30-day extensions available to certain patent and trademark-related deadlines.  Prior to the enactment of the CARES Act, the USPTO did not have authority to extend deadlines because most patent and trademark-related deadlines are defined by statute.

Rather than take a uniform approach to extending deadlines for all filings and payments, such as other patent offices have taken across the world, the USPTO has focused on allowing extensions to only certain filings and payments.  Patent application extensions apply to, for example, responses to office actions, issue fee payments, and certain appeal filings that are due between March 27 and April 30, 2020.  Notably, the USPTO has excluded replies to pre-examination notices and maintenance fee payments to most applicants, unless an applicant is a small entity or micro entity.  The USPTO also granted extensions for certain filings before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), including requests for rehearing of a PTAB decision.  Any qualifying filing or payment due between March 27 and April 30, 2020, will be extended 30 days from the initial date that it was due.

To qualify for an extension, a delayed filing or payment must be accompanied by a statement that the delay in filing or payment was due to a practitioner, applicant, patent owner, petitioner, third party requester, inventor, or other person associated with the filing or payment being personally affected by the COVID-19 outbreak, including through office closures, cash flow interruptions, inaccessibility of files or other materials, travel delays, personal or family illness, or similar circumstances.

The USPTO has clarified, in a frequently asked questions (FAQ) section of its website that the statement that the delay was due to the COVID-19 outbreak should be a separate statement (e.g., not as part of a response to an Office action) but does not need to be verified or provided in an affidavit or declaration form.  However, the COVID-19 outbreak must materially interfere with a filing or payment to qualify as a delay due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The USPTO’s extension of deadlines under the CARES act is just the latest relief that the USPTO has granted due to the COVID-19 outbreak.  Last month, the USPTO waived fees for reviving applications that became abandoned because of failure to meet a deadline for responding to an Office communication due to the COVID-19 outbreak and waived requirements for an original handwritten signature for certain correspondence with the Office of Enrollment and Discipline and certain payments by credit card.

As of the date of this posting, the USPTO’s extension of deadlines under the CARES act applies to deadlines through April 30, 2020, but the USPTO may extend the time window based on the continuing impact of the COVID-19 outbreak.

The USPTO’s Notice of Waiver of Patent-Related Timing Deadlines under the CARES ACT can be found here.

The USPTO’s FAQs concerning the Extension of Deadlines under the CARES ACT can be found here.

 

Obvious to Use Common Sense (If You Can Prove It)

By Jafar Ali, Associate

In KSR Int’l Co. v. Teleflex, Inc., 550 U.S. 398 (2007), the Supreme Court recalibrated the obviousness analysis to (re-)emphasize the relevance of “the background knowledge posted by a person having ordinary skill in the art” when determining whether there would have been an apparent reason to combine and/or modify prior art to arrive at the claimed invention.  Before KSR, the Federal Circuit and lower courts had regularly been applying the so-called “teaching, suggestion, motivation” (TSM) test, which generally required some “teaching, suggestion, or motivation” to combine and/or modify the prior art to support a conclusion of obviousness.  Critically, the Supreme Court held that the TSM test as-applied was a rigid and mandatory rule that improperly limited the obviousness inquiry by denying factfinders (e.g., examiners and juries) recourse to common sense.  KSR changed the obviousness landscape by rejecting the rigidity and formalism of the TSM test and setting forth “an expansive and flexible approach” in which the factual determinations underlying the obviousness analysis could consider “the inferences and creative steps that a person of ordinary skill in the art would employ.”

One question that was not fully resolved in KSR itself, however, was the extent to which a claimed invention could be rendered obvious based on general knowledge or common sense.  Instead, the Court simply stated that the fact-finding supporting an obviousness analysis “should be made explicit” to facilitate review while favorably citing earlier Federal Circuit decisions holding that “there must be some articulated reasoning with some rational underpinning to support the legal conclusion of obviousness.”  In Koninklijke Philips N.V. v. Google LLC, 2019-1177 (Fed. Cir. Jan. 30, 2020), the Federal Circuit clarified that the “general knowledge” of a person having ordinary skill in the art can indeed be relied upon to render a claimed invention obvious, even to supply an admittedly missing claim limitation, provided that the record contains a reasoned analysis and evidentiary support for such general knowledge.

In Philips, the Federal Circuit upheld an inter partes decision of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“Board”) finding claims 1-11 in U.S. Patent No. 7,529,806 (“the ’806 patent”) to be invalid as obvious over a single prior art reference.  The representative claim at issue generally related to a method for delivering digital content for playback on a client device.  In particular, the claimed method recited steps to retrieve a next portion of a media presentation during playback of a previous portion, thus reducing delays relative to traditional downloading approaches in which playback cannot begin until the entire media presentation has finished downloading.  Google, in challenging the validity of the ’806 patent, referred to a publication explaining a conventional pipelining scheme to divide a media presentation into multiple segments and play a current segment (Sn) while a next segment (Sn+1) is downloading.  Citing the pipelining scheme and an expert declaration, Google argued, and the Board agreed, that the claimed method was invalid as obvious because the features admitted to be missing from the prior art were within the general knowledge of a person having ordinary skill in the art.

On appeal, the Federal Circuit held that “the skilled artisan’s knowledge [can be considered] when determining whether it would have been obvious to modify the prior art” regardless of the tribunal.  Indeed, citing KSR, the court stated that the obviousness analysis requires an assessment of the “background knowledge possessed by a person having ordinary skill in the art.”  However, reliance on general knowledge or common sense would be improper if based solely upon “conclusory statements and unspecific expert testimony,” and using background knowledge to supply a missing claim limitation should be reserved to cases where the missing limitation is “unusually simple and the technology particularly straightforward.”  In this case, the background knowledge was sufficient to supply the missing claim features because the Board relied upon expert evidence that was corroborated by the literature establishing that pipelining was within the general knowledge of a skilled artisan.

This case provides important context to further refine the impact that general knowledge has on patentability.  One noteworthy aspect is that, in Philips, the party asserting obviousness presented an expert declaration and supporting documentary evidence rather than simply making conclusory statements that a person having ordinary skill in the art would have known about the missing claim features.  Accordingly, if a patent applicant is faced with an obviousness rejection relying upon general knowledge during prosecution, the applicant can challenge the Examiner to produce supporting documentary evidence.  Furthermore, this case reaffirms the importance of having robust backup positions in a patent application, including dependent claims.  Features of independent claims believed to overcome the prior art might be alleged to be within the general knowledge of a skilled artisan in adversarial proceedings when parties asserting invalidity typically devote more resources to finding evidentiary support.  Strong dependent claims provide an avenue for at least some claims surviving in that situation.

 

Harrity Gives Back with COVID-19 Relief

WASHINGTON, DC (April 2, 2020) Harrity & Harrity, LLP, a boutique IP firm specializing in patent preparation and prosecution, is taking action to help those who have been affected by the severe outbreak of COVID-19.  While the firm says it is fortunate to be in an industry that is minimally impacted by the devastation of the virus, it recognizes all of those who have lost their jobs, shuttered their businesses, and/or are struggling to make ends meet during this period of uncertainty.

“Look, we are blessed to be in an industry where many, if not most, make six or seven figures.  Most lawyers will make it through this pandemic relatively unscathed,” said John Harrity, Managing Partner. “We are in an unprecedented time, with a virus that is spreading throughout the world at an exponential rate and the global economy being devastated.  This is a great opportunity for our legal industry to act.”

The government’s stimulus package is certainly a step in the right direction to help those that have been financially impacted by the coronavirus, but it is clear that more needs to be done.  Accordingly, John said his firm has made the decision to temporarily reallocate its giving back initiative, Harrity 4 Charity, to help those suffering from the many adverse effects of COVID-19.

“As a result of the current pandemic, we have decided to pause our contributions to our partner charities and instead get our Harrity 4 Charity dollars out into the communities to help people who have been financially impacted by the coronavirus,” stated John.

Currently, the firm commits 5% of its profits to four charity organizations.  Impressively, every one of the firm’s 53 employees also donates a portion of their paychecks to the Harrity 4 Charity non-profits.  While these charities are still incredibly important to the firm, the current economic climate calls for immediate attention.  Suggestions and nominations of where to donate the Harrity 4 Charity dollars have flooded in from the firm’s employees, many with heartfelt accounts of families that they know personally who are struggling to get by.

While Harrity & Harrity has not yet announced the recipients of the COVID-19 relief fund, the initiative will focus on helping families and individuals who have been laid off or lost their jobs, single parents or families struggling to provide for their children as a result of COVID-19, and those with underlying health conditions that prevent them from obtaining household essentials on their own.

The firm additionally plans on establishing restaurant-run food banks throughout the nation with the goal of helping businesses who are suffering from a lack of customers, while providing free meals to people who cannot afford them.  Harrity 4 Charity will purchase meals from local restaurants and donate the food to those in need.

John hopes these programs will not only aid those suffering from the effects of the outbreak, but inspire others, specifically in less impacted industries like the legal field, to act.

“If you are in the position to, please also consider donating to one of the many organizations currently supporting COVID-19 relief, or offering to help someone you know in need,” John urges.

 

About Harrity 4 Charity

Harrity 4 Charity represents a partnering of law firm Harrity & Harrity, LLP, with charities that are near and dear to our hearts. Harrity pledges to give five percent of profits to partner charities and all Harrity employees pledge to donate a portion of their paychecks. Harrity & Harrity is a patent preparation and prosecution firm specializing in the electrical and mechanical technology areas and is considered a Go-To Firm for the Patent 300™. Our clients have come to trust in our high-quality work, experienced people, industry leading innovation, and outstanding service. For more information, visit harrityllp.com.

 

COVID-19 Shifts Law Firms’ Hiring, Onboarding Process Online—To a Limit

Law.com (March 31, 2020) — Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, more law firms are heavily relying on technology and videoconferencing to hire and onboard attorneys and staff during the COVID-19 crisis. However, many wont be able to achieve 100% remote onboarding.

Recently, law firms said they’ve shifted any in-person interviews to video and phone chats. Likewise, once a lawyer or staffer is hired, their laptops and other equipment are shipped to them, and orientation and other new hire protocols are made on the phone or through video conference platforms.

Some in-person requirements have also been relaxed. On March 20, the Department of Homeland Security gave law firms and other employers some flexibility when it eased its in-person review requirement for I-9 documentation to verify an employee’s identity and employment authorization.

But there are still some barriers to going fully remote. Take, for example, getting a new partner’s book of business.

“Typically that lateral would get releases from their client [for] both physical and electronic files to the firm they’re leaving and joining,” said Fox Rothschild chief talent officer Jean Durling.

She noted that if the lawyer’s former firm doesn’t have remote access capabilities, accessing physical files could be a challenge. “It would be out of our hands; we can’t control what goes on in another firm.”

To be sure, moving to remote onboarding isn’t a huge change for some.

Boutique patent firm Harrity & Harrity, for instance, said it will replace its in-person final meeting before making a hiring decision with a video conference, said partner Paul Harrity. Still, that exception isn’t unique to the COVID-19 pandemic. Harrity noted that the firm previously onboarded a new staffer who was working remotely after the birth of a child.

Remote onboarding also doesn’t just extend to interviews and formal HR and IT communication needs. New hires need to build camaraderie with lawyers they’ve never personally met. To this end, law firms are looking to encourage more phone calls and video conferencing.

“Laterals that are in the [hiring] process with us we’ve already scheduled follow-up calls that would typically take place in an office to keep them engaged,” said Fox Rothschild’s Durling. She said the firm plans to schedule more frequent video and phone conference meetings held by department chairs for their practice members.

Eve Howard, regional managing partner of Hogan Lovells’ Washington, D.C., office, has seen a similar change. “Meeting people in person that’s always preferred, [but] now those meetings are happening through video technology. We call that internal profile raising, we are now doing that with Skype and other video conferencing.”

While fostering introductions and building networking opportunities between new lawyers must take place via phone conferences and video chats, they can be done in a “fun” way to maintain engagement, noted Crowell & Moring chief human resources officer Marguerite Eastwood.

She described a conference call two weeks ago where lawyers discussed their puppies and kids to foster lighthearted discussions and connections with colleagues who would usually work in an office together.

Written by Victoria Hudgins

 

Addressing the Lack of Diversity in the Legal Field

Promoting the culture of diversity is important for all professions, but it is especially lacking in the legal field. In fact, the legal profession is among the least diverse professions in the United States.  Diversity and inclusion in the workplace help to identify and embrace different backgrounds and contribute to the overall advancement of the business.

There are several factors that impede the prevalence of diversity in the legal field.  At Harrity, we are dedicated to overcoming these obstacles by providing opportunities for minorities and developing tools for diverse candidates to succeed.  Although the disparity of minorities practicing law, and especially minorities in equity positions, will take time to overcome, it is an obtainable goal if all firms work to address the problem.

Statistics Talk

The industry needs to recognize the importance of creating an unbiased, equal, and harmonious working environment for all legal professionals.  Unfortunately, the lack of diversity is widespread in the legal field, and the numbers show the industry is moving at a slow pace to address the issue.

In 2018, 85% of lawyers in the U.S. were Caucasian, according to the American Bar Association.  Another report on diversity in U.S. law firms found that racially diverse women are the most underrepresented group in the legal profession.  Other diverse groups underrepresented include LGBTQ2+ lawyers, lawyers with disabilities, and Black/African lawyers.

The Challenges in Recruiting Diverse Workforce

While corporate legal departments and law firms are working on more inclusive recruitment and hiring practices, there is still a need to address the lack of diversity.  Many barriers impede the advancement and retention of diverse lawyers in the legal profession.  Some of the factors that contribute to the lack of diversity include in-group favoritism, stereotyping, unconscious biases, and diversity fatigue.

Law firms should regularly participate in diversity training, utilize a diversity consultant, and review their own Diversity & Inclusion policies.  Firms should also consider concepts such as implicit bias, i.e., attributing certain attitudes or associating stereotypes with a person or group of people without our conscious knowledge, and self-assessment bias, in which females and minority groups tend to rate themselves lower on skill-related surveys than white males.

Other factors that contribute to the lack of diversity in the legal field are the socio-economic circumstances that often hinder minority groups, including limited access to quality education and other resources, and the high cost of pursuing a legal degree.  Outreach programs, financial aid, and internal training opportunities targeting low-income families can help legal professionals address this and ensure all demographics have the same access to a legal career path.

Importance of Diversity in the Legal Field

Law firms must welcome a diverse workforce as it promotes mutual respect, acceptance, and co-existence.  It is crucial to formulate new strategies when working in the legal world.  A diverse group of lawyers, with different backgrounds, ethnicities, and skills, can help each other in building strengths and overcoming weaknesses.

Diversity leads to innovative ideas, opinions, and strategies.  It improves the quality of service and ensures that the voice of marginalized groups is also heard.  A female lawyer or black lawyer can highlight the issues of their respective groups better than others.  Diversity helps law firms to adapt accordingly to unprecedented or less familiar situations.  It allows them to respond to diverse clients more effectively.

Above all, diversity and inclusion in the legal field prevent discrimination against skilled and qualified lawyers.  Many reports and studies show that diverse workplaces are more productive and that they have lower turnover compared to non-inclusive workplaces.

Final Word

Harrity & Harrity strongly believes that the practice of law can advance only when there is a diverse legal team.  Our Diversity Mission is to promote a respectful, family-friendly, and diverse culture that recognizes and values the diverse backgrounds, perspectives, experiences, skills, and talents of each member on our team.

In order to provide equal opportunity to all candidates, Harrity developed the Rooney Rule 2.0 with regard to hiring, which is based off of The Rooney Rule.  The Rooney Rule is a National Football League policy that requires league teams to interview one minority candidate for each head coaching and senior football operation job.  According to The Rooney Rule, only one diverse candidate needs to be interviewed, while there could be hundreds or thousands of non-diverse candidates.  The Rooney Rule 2.0 changes that rule to commit to interviewing a female or minority candidate for every male or non-minority candidate we interview for any position at our firm.

The Harrity Diversity Committee has implemented several other initiatives in order to grow and nurture diversity in the IP legal field.  The Minority Firm Incubator helps train, develop, and launch minority-owned patent law firms in an effort to recruit, retain, and advance attorneys who will contribute to the diversity of the patent field.  The annual Women’s Workshop is a free program that introduces female engineers and law students or recent graduates to the practice of patent law with guest speakers, patent skills training, career mentoring, and more.  The Harrity Academy provides minority candidates with exclusive training and practice materials for drafting high-quality patent applications.

The goal of these programs is to help increase the number of diverse candidates applying to positions within Harrity and the legal field, help improve skillsets and the likelihood that these candidates will succeed in the interview process, and encourage upward movement for minorities within their firms.

If more firms commit to implementing a comprehensive diversity plan, together, we can help bridge the gap by eliminating biases and encouraging diversity within the legal community.  It is vital that the hiring process focuses only on required skillsets and qualifications, regardless of gender, color, race, or religion, and that steps are taken to reduce discrimination and give minorities the opportunity to succeed.

If you are interested in reading the 2018/2019 Harrity Annual Diversity Report, it can be found here.  For more information regarding Harrity’s diversity initiatives, visit harrityllp.com/diversity.

 

Elaine Spector
AUTHOR

Elaine Spector

Elaine Spector is a Partner at Harrity & Harrity, LLP, a boutique firm specializing in intellectual property law. Her practice focuses primarily on the prosecution of patent applications, specifically within electromechanical technologies. Elaine is a driving force in the firm’s diversity and charity initiatives and serves on several committees and boards in relation, including AIPLA’s Women in IP Law’s Global Networking Event & Outreach Subcommittee, IPO’S Diversity & Inclusion Committee, and the non-profit No More Stolen Childhoods.

Agile But Vulnerable, Smaller Firms Fight To Weather Virus

Law360 (March 27, 2020) — This summer, John Harrity, a name partner of patent boutique Harrity & Harrity LLP, planned to send an emergency drill text message to all his staffers requesting that they work remotely. It was supposed to be a simulation for what to do if a disaster struck. He planned not to give partners a heads-up that the text message was coming.

With many attorneys forced to work remotely because of the coronavirus outbreak, experts say small and midsize firms may be able to adapt to changes more readily than BigLaw. Above, a lone commuter crosses the street outside New York City’s Grand Central Terminal during the normally busy morning rush hour. (AP)

Then the coronavirus pandemic hit, forcing him to recommend that most of his attorneys and staff start working remotely in mid-March.

When Harrity first spoke with Law360 on March 10, he felt the Virginia-based firm, which had already been liberally using video conferencing for internal communication, was relatively well prepared for the potential scenario of going fully remote. Five years ago, the firm had started offering more flexibility to attorneys, largely to appeal to potential recruits. The firm went cloud-based and paperless.

“The bigger firms are going to struggle during this time period way more because we’re already ready for this,” Harrity said.

Many midsize and smaller firms like Harrity & Harrity have had an edge over BigLaw when it comes to transitioning to remote work, whether because they had already started doing it or because their smaller size allowed them to be more nimble in putting together new response plans, according to experts. For many, however, the longer-term potential impact on business development is weighing heavily on smaller firms.

Harrity is steeling for the hit to the firm’s work if the larger economic dip results in fewer patent applications. Other firms focused on such hard-hit practice areas, including litigation and deals, are already feeling significant pressures, and some small firms have begun to slash staff in response, according to John Remsen of The Remsen Group, a law firm management consultancy that often works with smaller and midsize firms.

“It’s a very uncertain period,” said Remsen, who has been holding regular calls with midsize and small firm managing partners.

In these early stages of the pandemic, the focus for many midsize and small law firm leaders has been simply working to stay connected to clients and either testing or adding technology to prepare for their offices to go remote.

“From a business continuity standpoint, you can never take a wait-and-see approach,” Alan Tarter of midsize New York firm Tarter Krinsky & Drogin LLP said in early March.

Before New York City’s lockdown measures went into effect, Tarter’s firm had done a “full business continuity program” that included testing how phones, operations and administrative processes might work in the event the entire office had to work remotely.

“This way, if there are any gaps in our business continuity program, we can seal them now before we find ourselves in a crisis,”  Tarter said. “As a midsized firm, our clients rely on us to be their solution, not add to their problems. Likewise, our employees look to us to provide reassurances and support.”

Mike Arias of California litigation boutique Arias Sanguinetti Wang & Torrijos LLP, which also has offices in Las Vegas and Montreal, started limiting client face-to-face meetings several weeks ago and moving toward more virtual or phone connections to protect attorneys and staff from the coronavirus.

“There is an understanding that you’re dealing with a finite group of people, but not just the people in your office. You’re dealing with them and their families,” Arias said.

For many midsize and smaller firms, their size has meant fewer decision-makers in the mix and the ability to make policy changes and decisions quickly, according to Remsen. Smaller firms have often had the advantage of not needing to keep track of a patchwork of lockdown measures for offices across the country.

“If you’re a large firm with offices scattered in different cities, states, you have different scenarios in each one of those offices,” said James Cotterman, a principal at professional services consulting firm Altman Weil Inc.

A number of midsize and smaller firms — especially those that had already invested in connecting their workforce through technology — have been able to communicate well with lawyers and staff in these uncertain times. At many firms, managing partners and executive committee members are dividing up staff lists to check in one-on-one with people who are working remotely, according to Remsen.

The economic pressures and uncertainty that have come with the COVID-19 outbreak, however, are also putting many midsize and small-law leaders in a tough spot when it comes to staffing and financial decisions.

Many law firm leaders expect the pandemic to have a four-to-six-month immediate effect on their operations, which edges to where many could see significant bottom line issues, according to experts.

“There will be a lot of firms who don’t get through this,” Remsen said.

Part of the problem for many midsize and smaller firms is that they don’t have the cash stash that BigLaw does. Some firm partners are already passing on their draws as cash flow tightens, while others are using their credit lines to cover partner draws, Remsen said. Still others are starting to — or thinking about — making staffing cuts.

“Most firms seem to be taking a blended approach,” Remsen said.

So far, many firms are trying to hold onto staffers who have been loyal, according to Remsen. But he has also heard from one firm that cut its support staff by 75% in response to the pressures.

Remsen said he expects that more midsize and small firms will be forced to make cuts as well and that firms should use the situation as an opportunity to deal with chronic underperformers.

For many leaders of such firms, how they handle this crisis could mold their legacies, according to Remsen.

“It’s time for you as a managing partner to step up,” he said. “Your tenure will be largely dependent on how you handle this.”

Written by Natalie Rodriguez

Editing by Jill Coffey and Michael Watanabe

 

5 Tips for Attorneys Working from Home During the COVID-19 Crisis

Attorney at Law Magazine (March 18, 2020)– In a matter of days, COVID-19 has completely changed how we operate our day to day lives. For lawyers who have worked full-time in the office, the change to being fully remote may be challenging. I especially empathize with lawyers with small children, who are trying to adapt to a work from home arrangement, as well as care for their young children. I can imagine that it is not easy. I can say for the first time that I am thankful that my kids are teenagers. (Did I just say I was happy to have teenagers?!?) These are desperate times. With that being said, here are a few pointers that I hope will help you transition to a fully remote position, albeit, temporarily!

No. 1: Designate your space for working only.

Whether you have kids, are married, are single, whatever it may be, I recommend finding a place in your house/apartment/condo, if you have the space, that is designated as your office. When I first started working from home, I isolated myself in the basement. In fact, on my first day working remotely in my home, my husband saw me packing a bag of food, and he asked me incredulously “Where are you going?” “To my office, thank you.” It is important that you have a separate space as your office, so that you are not distracted by the domestic duties of the home. If a designated space is not possible, designate set work hours and stick to a schedule. If you have a family, designate a set work schedule and childcare schedule between you and your significant other. If you have kids and no significant other, you will have to be more creative. Remember, this arrangement is only temporary, and we will soon get back to normal.

No. 2: Set boundaries.

When I started working from home, my kids were 10, 12, and 14. It was in the summer, and my 12-year-old kept peeking in and wanting to tell me the latest, greatest thing. After the fifth interruption, I reminded him that I was at work and really to treat it like I was not at home when my door was shut. It was a beautiful summer day, and I had my window open for fresh air. My son went outside and dragged a chair by the window to talk to me. Failure! But a few days later, my son was used to the fact that I was home, and it was no longer novel. Eventually, with consistent reinforcement, my boundaries were respected and I was able to work uninterrupted.

No. 3: Get dressed.

By sticking to your normal morning routine, it will feel more like a regular workday. Shower, get dressed, have your coffee, and sit at a desk or table rather than the couch. This will help you maintain the mindset that you are at work, even though you are at home, and will aid your ability to focus on work-related tasks.

No. 4: Connect with your colleagues via video conference.

I can’t reiterate how important connecting with your colleagues via video is, especially during this time. At our firm, more than half of our employees work from home. When we need to speak to someone, we video call rather than calling on the phone. What a difference video makes. You will still feel connected with your colleagues despite the distance. If you are accustomed to an office setting, scheduling a daily or weekly call with your team or having a video lunch meeting will help things run smoothly, keep everyone on the same page, and make you feel less remote. I would encourage every company and law firm to have a video conferencing capability either through Teams, Zoom, Skype, whatever platform works for you.

No. 5: Read and implement “Fair Play,” by Eve Rodsky.

I can’t say enough about this book. Essentially, this book lays out some 100 household and childrearing tasks we do. The author, who is a lawyer and mediator, lays out a foundation on how to divide up tasks between partners. Typically, women will bear the brunt of the domestic tasks, and often, will ask their partners to execute a task without proper context.

Rodsky lays out a simple strategy. First, eliminate the tasks that don’t apply to you and your family. Second, divide up tasks, so the person who is responsible for the task is in charge of conception, planning, and execution of the task, or as Rodsky coins “CPEing” a task. Every week, you and your partner can meet to redistribute the cards if one person feels overwhelmed or is not suited for that particular task. My husband and I implemented this book a few weeks ago. He is still responsible for the morning routine (including breakfast), and he also took the laundry and dishes. He is very grateful to be absolved of cooking dinner, handling the finances, and grocery shopping. Please do read the entire book. There are a few important steps that need to be considered before you divide up the tasks; once you do, balancing family and home life with working remotely will become much less daunting.

These tips have been vital in acclimating to my work from home lifestyle. I hope they help you adjust to remote work and I wish everyone the best as they set up their new offices. I pray that you and your families stay safe and healthy during this uncertain time. This too shall pass.


 

Elaine Spector
AUTHOR

Elaine Spector

Elaine Spector is a Partner at Harrity & Harrity, LLP, a boutique firm specializing in intellectual property law. Her practice focuses primarily on the prosecution of patent applications, specifically within electromechanical technologies. Elaine is a driving force in the firm’s diversity and charity initiatives and serves on several committees and boards in relation, including AIPLA’s Women in IP Law’s Global Networking Event & Outreach Subcommittee, IPO’S Diversity & Inclusion Committee, and the non-profit No More Stolen Childhoods.

Bunch O Balloons Inventor Josh Malone – Clause 8 – Episode 16

Tune into Eli Mazour‘s Clause 8 Podcast for an exclusive interview with Josh Malone – the inventor of Bunch O Balloons and America’s foremost advocate for reliable patent rights.

Josh came up with the idea for Bunch O Balloons to help his kids fill up 100 water balloons in less than one minute. It eventually became the most popular toy in America. However, before Bunch O Balloons even came to market, another company copied it and started selling its own versions of the product. Luckily – or so he thought at the time – Josh filed a patent application for his Bunch O Balloons invention. He did not know the enormous amount of time, money, and luck it would take to successfully enforce patents that covered his invention. This episode tells the story of what it took, including taking a trip to Bentonville, AR in the middle of the night to try to convince Walmart to stop selling knock offs of his product.

Listen and subscribe on IPwatchdog.com.

 

The Importance of Patent Analytics for Your Business Strategy

When a company or organization launches a new product, a patent is usually the first published evidence of the invention in the public domain. Patents are essential protections for any innovation-driven company that has a substantial Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) culture.

A patent protects the right of the inventor company to use their product, thereby preventing others from using the invention. Today, patents have become critical factors for businesses to get an edge over their competitors. Patent analytic tools are being used by organizations for various purposes, including development of sound business strategy.

How Does Patent Analytics Help Businesses?

Patent analysis helps businesses in many areas, both internally and externally. For instance, internal patent analytics helps organizations assess their own patent portfolio.

Further, it can assist in SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis. With patent analytics, companies can make informed decisions regarding licensing and acquisition of advanced technologies.

External analytics, on the other hand, provides information about competitors and the technologies they use.

Let’s discuss the benefits of patent analytics for business strategies in detail.

1.     Portfolio Analytics

To stand out amongst the competition, you must understand your organization’s patent portfolio. Analyzing your company’s portfolio reveals valuable insights; you get a clear picture of your strengths and weaknesses. Doing so allows you to make well-informed business decisions.

2.     Competitor Analytics

Another advantage of patent analysis is that it allows you to compare your own patent portfolio to those of competitors. Competitor analytics offers valuable insight into competitor business strategies and partnerships.  Patent analytics helps you understand what is working for your competitors and what mistakes you should avoid.

3.     Technology Analytics

Analytics tools keep you up to date on where your business and competitors stand in the dynamic landscape of technology. This information allows you to make better decisions regarding portfolio management and fosters stronger client relationships.

Field-relevant technology know-how helps identify market needs. Patent analysis provides researchers and inventors with valuable technological information needed to find innovative solutions to technical problems.

Additionally, patent analytics helps with licensing, mergers, and acquisitions. Patent data can provide a comprehensive, technical portfolio view for technologies and companies in consideration for licensing or acquisition and helps shorten the list of choices.

4.     Cost and Budget Analytics

Budgeting and wise resource-management is crucial to strong business strategy. Analytics provide detailed information on costs occurred during patent prosecution and maintenance periods. This information helps identify problems, cut costs, and spend your budget efficiently.

5.     Automated Portfolio Categorization

Patent portfolio categorization dashboards, such as those created by Harrity Analytics, are automated systems that categorize patent portfolios according to your business’s self-determined technology areas.  These tools can additionally perform a competitive analysis of the key players in your niche industry areas.

Final Words

Whether you are starting a new business, developing a new product, pitching a new client, planning a merger, or just trying to stay ahead of the competition, patent analytics is crucial to ensuring you are on the right track and building a sound business strategy.

Harrity Patent Analytics services can help you manage your patent profile, gain insight into your competitors’ portfolios, and understand patent trends around the world.  Harrity Patent Analytics can help you make patent prosecution decisions and refine your business strategy.  To view a list of Harrity Patent Analytics services or request your own customized reports, visit https://harrityllp.com/services/patent-analytics/.

 

About Harrity Patent Analytics

Harrity Patent Analytics, a team of professionals within the boutique IP law firm of Harrity & Harrity, LLP, uses cutting-edge capabilities to analyze patent data and extract insights for strategic decisions regarding patent portfolios.  Patent 300® companies rely on Harrity Patent Analytics services to better understand their own patent portfolios, those of their competitors, their key technology areas, and to keep track of patent office trends around the world.  For more information, visit harrityllp.com/services/patent-analytics.

 

Responding to Coronavirus in the Workplace

As the coronavirus, or COVID-19 outbreak continues to spread across the nation, companies small and large are beginning to express concern over the potential effects the virus will have on business operations. Many communities have begun closing schools and public centers, postponing social events, and encouraging citizens to stay home. This inevitably is causing disruptions in the workforce as businesses decide what precautions to take and how to prepare for emergency responses in the event their own employees are diagnosed.

John Harrity, Managing Partner of IP boutique Harrity & Harrity, LLP, sat down for an interview for Law Practice Today, the webzine of the American Bar Association’s Law Practice Management Division, regarding how his firm is responding to the outbreak.

Q: What kind of relevant preparedness plans did the firm already have in place prior to the outbreak of the coronavirus?

A: We have previously thought about disaster recovery preparedness and what that would entail. In recent years, we have implemented an optional remote policy for all attorneys and allow in-office employees to work from home once a week. This allows us to ensure that everyone in the firm is equipped and fully able and accustomed to remote work. If the building closes, if there is an emergency incident, if there is a health concern, we are fully prepared to have both attorneys and staff telework.

Q: Has the firm implemented any policies yet regarding traveling or working from home?

A: In addition to the optional remote policy we already have in place, we have implemented further policies and recommendations in response to the outbreak. The first occurred within a few days of the virus reaching the US. We were monitoring the situation and released a memo to the firm that recommended not travelling via plane or attending a conference, if avoidable. If someone were to do either, they were instructed to not come into the office for the subsequent fourteen days to ensure no signs of symptoms- which typically arise within a two-week frame of contact with the virus. If someone were to show signs of symptoms, whether they traveled or not, they were also instructed to stay home. As the virus continued to spread, we distributed a second memo, in which we highly recommended that everyone work from home. The next step, if the virus continues to worsen in our area, would be a mandatory work from home policy.

Q: What steps have you taken (technological or otherwise) to make it easier for attorneys and other employees to work remotely, assuming that may eventually be necessary?

A: As mentioned, all of our employees are fully equipped to work from home with the same set-up we have in the office, including dual monitors and webcams. We are already paperless and cloud-based, allowing everyone to access necessary documents and systems whether or not they are in the office. With 60% of our firm already remote, we rely on video conferencing on a daily basis to conduct face-to-face meetings and utilize an instant messaging system for easy contact. Operationally, there is zero difference between how we were running two months ago to how we run today.

Q: What action will be taken if an employee is diagnosed with the coronavirus?

A: Currently, everyone is encouraged to work remotely to decrease the likelihood of the virus spreading if any employee were to be diagnosed. We additionally have an unlimited time off policy for attorneys and ample time off for staff, which can be utilized should they become sick. If sickness extends to a lengthy period of time, all employees have access to short term and long term disability through the firm, and fully paid medical benefits to receive proper treatment.

Q: What do you anticipate will be the biggest challenges for the firm in the days ahead as more people nationwide (and potentially at your firm) contract the virus?

A: Logistically, the spread of the coronavirus will have zero impact on our firm as a whole. If someone in the firm actually gets it, they of course would be impacted, but dependent upon the severity of their symptoms, are able to continue working remotely. However, there’s a possibility that, as companies require employees to work from home, schools close, and people become sick, there will be less innovation, which equals less filing. While we are prepared to continue operations as normal, our biggest anticipated challenge and what we have to prepare for is the impact from a workload standpoint. This may require attorneys to take some time off or become more involved in other aspects of the firm’s operations, such as business development, diversity initiatives, and charity until patent services pick back up.

Q: Have you announced any changes to HR/benefits policies to address potential scenarios that could arise, such as an employee becoming ill for an extended period of time or having to care for a family member?

A: Our benefits package, including medical care, ample PTO and disability, is already accommodating to a scenario like this. In addition to our remote policies, we allow employees to work flexible schedules, working whichever hours fit best within their personal schedule.

Q: What is your plan if numerous employees are unable to work due to having the coronavirus or caring for afflicted family members, or school closures?

A: With employees working from home and allowing them the flexibility to work whatever hours they need to, their production should not be affected. However, if they become sick, or need to prioritize the well-being of their family, they are welcome to utilize paid time off. From an attorney’s perspective, they have unlimited leave and can focus on the health of themselves and their families without repercussions. Staff starts at 23 paid days off, plus holidays, or can use disability if it comes to it.

Q: What are attorneys and staff expressing the most concern about?

A: With everyone already prepared and accustomed to working remotely, being aware of their benefits, and able to decide their own hours, we have not had anyone express concern about the virus.

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to share on this topic?

A: I just want to reiterate how beneficial our remote policy and flexibility have been during this scare. We have not had to worry about what our firm will do to keep things running, change our technology, train our employees on teleworking, or modify our operations, because we have already implemented all of these changes and were fully prepared.

Research shows that providing employees with flexible schedules and remote options is beneficial for morale, production, employee satisfaction, and business growth- all factors Harrity took into account when establishing these policies in recent years. A worldwide health crisis was not something on the radar while making these decisions but has proven to be a driving reason to support teleworking and flex hours in the current climate. By already having implemented these policies, Harrity employees were not only prepared, but generally unaffected by the firm’s recommendation to telework. While many other companies are dealing with the chaos of how to respond to the outbreak while keeping their operations running smoothly, it’s business as usual at Harrity. If possible, we encourage all businesses to implement a work-from-home policy in order to decrease the likelihood of the virus spreading and hope a resolution is near.

 

About John Harrity

John Harrity is the co-founder and managing partner of Harrity & Harrity, LLP, a boutique IP law firm focused on patent preparation and prosecution. John’s practice highlights his ample experience in the patent field, which includes client counseling, business management, and drafting and prosecuting hundreds of patent applications. In addition, John serves as the co-chair of the American Heart Association’s Lawyers Have Heart Race, one of the Washington, DC area’s largest philanthropic events.

Keep the Beat: A Challenge for the American Heart Association

The heart is a small organ, but it plays the lead role in the normal functioning of the body. The moment it stops beating, the connection to life ends. Unfortunately, someone dies about every 38 seconds in the United States due to heart complications.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), every 40 seconds, someone in the country suffers a heart attack. Heart disease is the number one cause of death for both men and women in the US and worldwide. It claims the lives of more than 647,000 Americans each year, and is responsible for one in every four deaths.

While these numbers are intimidating, heart disease can often be prevented with the right lifestyle. The American Heart Association is the largest non-profit organization dedicated to combating heart disease and encouraging individuals to focus on heart health through things such as diet, exercise, and approved treatment. Harrity 4 Charity is a proud partner of the American Heart Association and is working to educate communities on how they can prevent heart disease, while helping those already battling with this universal killer, through a unique campaign called the Keep the Beat Challenge.

Keep the Beat Challenge: Origin

The Keep the Beat challenge is the brainchild of John Harrity, the managing partner of Harrity & Harrity, LLP and founder of Harrity 4 Charity. In 2016, John suffered one of the worst types of heart attack, the “widow-maker.” As the name denotes, the chances of surviving a widow-maker are very slim and John’s path to recovery was a difficult one.

John’s condition got worse before it got better; bleeding in the lungs sent him into respiratory distress, which eventually resulted in multiple organ failure. He spent three weeks in a coma, lying unconscious on the hospital bed. His doctor said his chances of survival were a million to one.

Miraculously, after spending a total of eight weeks in the ICU, John survived; no doubt thanks to his heart-healthy lifestyle. His incredible rehabilitation motivated John not to let this experience go to waste. Thus, it laid the foundation of Harrity 4 Charity and the Keep the Beat Challenge.

Participate in the Keep the Beat Challenge

The giving back initiative kicked off in February in alignment with American Heart Month – a federal program designed to raise awareness about heart disease. The mission of the challenge is to spread awareness about cardiovascular disease prevention and treatment while getting hearts beating through whatever means participants decide to keep the beat.

The American Heart Association has invested more than $4 billion in research for raising awareness about cardiovascular disease and its prevention, but the organization still needs your support to reduce the high mortality rate by heart diseases and stroke in the US. Your donation can help keep the beat going. All funds raised through the challenge go directly to the American Heart Association to fight for longer, healthier lives. Donate now by texting “KEEPTHEBEAT” to 41444 or visiting the Keep the Beat Challenge heart.org webpage.

You can participate in the challenge by recording a short video of yourself keeping a beat and posting it on social media with the hashtag #keepthebeat and challenging at least three others to keep the beat going. Whether you want to dance, rap, sing, walk, jump, bounce, or play while promoting the message, the choice is yours. In doing so, we hope your video will motivate your community to understand the importance of heart health and generate much needed support for the American Heart Association. Heart month may be over, but the fight against heart disease is not.

 

About Harrity 4 Charity

Harrity 4 Charity represents a partnering of law firm Harrity & Harrity, LLP, with charities that are near and dear to our hearts. Harrity partners pledge to give five percent of profits to partner charities and all Harrity employees pledge to donate a portion of their paychecks. Harrity & Harrity is a patent preparation and prosecution firm specializing in the electrical and mechanical technology areas and is considered a Go-To Firm for the Patent 300™. Our clients have come to trust in our high-quality work, experienced people, industry leading innovation, and outstanding service. For more information, visit harrityllp.com.

Why Businesses Should Be Open About Charity Involvements

Charity is a means of giving back to society, improving lives, and helping people struggling with poverty or health issues. Who hasn’t heard of Bill Gates and Michael Bloomberg? These entrepreneurs turned philanthropists have changed many lives and earned admiration for using their money for noble causes.

While these names are big, many small businesses also realize their responsibility towards the community and often participate in charity. Today, corporate social responsibility has become more important than ever. However, not many businesses are open about their charity involvement.

Why is Charity Important for Businesses?

Donating a small fraction of your earnings to a charitable cause can change several lives for better. Many companies give a certain share of their proceeds to non-profit organizations that work for the underprivileged and marginalized sections of society. Some even support healthcare institutes that provide free treatment for diseases that are hard to cure.

Helps Business Grow

Interestingly, 70% of millennials prefer spending their money with brands that support a noble cause. In case you don’t know, millennials have a spending power of nearly $2.45 trillion, so their buying decisions have a significant impact on the sales performance of businesses. The data shows how involvement in charity activities can help enterprises draw the attention of potential consumers.

Helps Build Positive Image

Serving the community helps businesses raise their stature in the eyes of the public. It helps them build a positive image of their brand. It also provides the opportunity to have greater reach by becoming a part of awareness campaigns.

Tax Benefits

Corporate donations not only benefit communities, but they also help businesses by allowing them to enjoy tax-savings. However, businesses should only donate and support charities with the intent of helping people and not for earning fiscal rewards. Be aware that companies must follow set rules and comply with all tax requirements.

How Can You Give Back to Your Community?

People prefer buying from brands that have a strong moral sense, compassion, and empathy for others. It comes as no surprise that socially-minded marketing promotions get hit instantly. The biggest advantage of donating to charity organizations is that it helps communities grow as a whole, which inevitably helps your business.

You can give back to society in many ways other than donating money. For instance, you can:

  • Revamp a park or school.
  • Help a charity organize small events for children
  • Sponsor a school choir group or sports team
  • Provide workspace in your business premises for visitors to partake in an awareness campaign
  • Encourage employees to participate in awareness campaigns and fundraising events, such as challenge videos or races with a cause
  • Sell tickets for a charity event on your social media channels
  • If you run a restaurant, you can sponsor an organization that works for feeding the homeless

The Takeaway

When it comes to making a charitable donation, the reasons and options are endless. Any reason that encourages giving back to society is a good one. Businesses need to be more open about charity involvements. It will not only help them change their business culture but also bring a huge positive impact on many lives. It may even inspire others to give back too. So, select an organization like ZERO, American Heart Association, or any local NGO and help them in making your community a better place for everyone.

About Harrity 4 Charity

Harrity 4 Charity represents a partnering of law firm Harrity & Harrity, LLP, with charities that are near and dear to our hearts. Harrity partners pledge to give five percent of profits to partner charities and all Harrity employees pledge to donate a portion of their paychecks. Harrity & Harrity is a patent preparation and prosecution firm specializing in the electrical and mechanical technology areas and is considered a Go-To Firm for the Patent 300®. Our clients have come to trust in our high-quality work, experienced people, industry leading innovation, and outstanding service. For more information, visit harrityllp.com.

Harrity Welcomes First Minority Firm Incubator Candidate

WASHINGTON, DC (March 5, 2020) Harrity & Harrity, LLP has named James Bennin as the first Minority Firm Incubator candidate.  In October of 2019, the firm announced the formation of the Minority Firm Incubator, a program developed to help women and minorities establish their own law firms in an effort to change the disparity of minority-owned firms in the field.  James was selected for the program from a large pool of applicants due to both his expertise in IP law and his desire to create opportunities for minorities to succeed in underrepresented industries.

“Our firm’s Diversity Mission is focused on fostering inclusion within the legal community and encouraging the growth and success of individuals from all backgrounds.  The Minority Firm Incubator is a service-oriented program intended to further this mission by helping underrepresented groups flourish in a field where diversity is lacking.  James not only shares our beliefs on the importance of diversity in the practice of law, but is committed to using this role as a community outreach platform to help overcome the socioeconomic barriers that many minority groups face.  These values, in addition to James’s impressive background in intellectual property law, make him the ideal candidate to launch our Minority Firm Incubator program,” said Managing Partner John Harrity.

James is a patent attorney with nearly 15 years of experience counseling clients on matters related to intellectual property law.  His practice focuses on preparing and prosecuting patent applications in a variety of technological fields, including electrical and software technologies. James has experience in private practice and as an in-house attorney.  James began the program, which consists of four phases, on February 3, 2020.

In the first phase of the incubator program, James will focus on efficiently drafting effective, high-quality patent applications through the use of Harrity’s in-house tools and processes.  In the second year, he will focus on prosecuting pending patent applications.  The third phase consists of firm management training, during which Bennin will learn best practices for hiring and training attorneys, establishing and maintaining an office, managing human resources, accounting, and docketing, pitching and retaining clients, and more. At the beginning of the fourth year, James will launch his own firm.  In doing so, James hopes to reshape the perspective of minority-owned firms and improve the diversity of the legal field.

“Given my own background as an individual who was raised by a single mother in a low income household, was the first college graduate in my immediate family, and is a member of an underrepresented group in the legal profession, I am very grateful for and fortunate to have had great experiences in my legal career thus far.  I understand the obstacles someone with my background needs to overcome to be successful in this profession, and understand the importance of improving diversity in the legal field,” stated James.  “I want to use this program/platform as a means to give back in light of the great experiences in my legal career and to help provide a blueprint or guide to success for members of underrepresented groups, so they can see me as a testament that success in any professional field, and more particularly in the legal field, is a realistic possibility in their future.“

With James well underway in Phase 1 of the initial launch, Harrity has reopened the Minority Firm Incubator program to more applicants.  To learn more and apply to the Minority Firm Incubator, and to see Harrity’s other initiatives for driving diversity in the IP legal field, visit harrityllp.com/diversity.

 

About Harrity & Harrity, LLP

Harrity & Harrity is a leading patent preparation and prosecution firm specializing in the electrical and mechanical technology areas and is considered a Go-To Firm for the Patent 300®.  Our clients trust in our high-quality work, experienced people, industry leading innovation, and outstanding service.  For more information, visit harrityllp.com.

Harrity Demos Patent Automation Software at IP Summit

SALT LAKE CITY (February 2020) Shawn Lillemo, Harrity’s Software Product Manager and IP attorney, was featured as a panelist and presenter at the 2020 Utah IP Summit last Friday. Shawn led the discussion on the use of automation to improve speed and quality in patent application drafting. The presentation included a demo of one of the Harrity Tools, an in-house automation software developed by Shawn and his team and currently used by Harrity attorneys to reduce errors and time spent on applications.

“The right automation tools can provide application drafters with extra time that can be spent fleshing out additional details of the invention, exploring alternative embodiments, and telling a good story about how the invention solves a technical problem,” stated Shawn on the significance of automation in the patent & legal fields.

In the short time since its launch, the use of Harrity Tools has substantially improved the efficiency of Harrity’s drafting attorneys and has led to a notable increase in the amount of applications drafted and obtained by the firm. To learn more about application drafting automation and other Harrity Tools, visit https://harrityllp.com/services/patent-automation/.

 

Patent 300® Report Ranks Most Innovative Companies

WASHINGTON (February 13, 2020) Harrity Patent Analytics has released the much-anticipated publication of the annual Patent 300®.  The Patent 300® is a distinctive compilation of the top 300 companies, organizations, and universities in the patent field, based on quantities of issued U.S. utility patents.  It is considered the intellectual property industry’s premier resource for patent insight and competitive intelligence on the world’s leaders in technology.

Ranging from tech giants, such as IBM (#1) and Samsung (#2), to leading universities, like University of California (#67) and MIT (#121), and newcomers, including Nielsen (#207) and Pure Storage (#341), the Patent 300® represents 54 percent of the more than 350,000 U.S. utility patents issued in 2019.

Key findings and trends from the Patent 300® include:

  • A few notable mergers and divestitures occurred among Patent 300® companies in 2019:
    • IBM acquired Red Hat, further securing their place at the top of the list
    • Broadcom (#83) acquired CA, Inc., jumping from #118 last year to #83
    • Commscope (#89) acquired Arris, boosting them from #133 last year to #89
    • DowDuPont, #38 on the previous Patent 300® list, split into Dow (#96), DuPont (not ranked), and Corteva (#92)
  • Capital One (#79) jumped 127 spots on the list, more than tripling their issued patents from the previous year
  • 27 previously unranked organizations joined the Patent 300®, including Bristol Myers Squibb (#150), Tata Sons (#264), and Splunk (#269)
  • 20 previously ranked organizations dropped off the list, including Uber, Nintendo, and Symantec

This year’s Patent 300® includes an interactive dashboard in which users can filter data by technology area, art unit, and more.  The addition of this feature will allow in-house counsel, law firm partners, marketing professionals, and c-suite executives to quickly generate insight into patent portfolios, competitors, and technology areas.

“The interactive Patent 300® dashboard is an exciting new addition to the Patent 300® this year”, says Rocky Berndsen, Head of Patent Analytics at Harrity.  “This tool gives you the ability to easily find detailed patent prosecution metrics on thousands of companies and law firms with a few clicks of the mouse.”

The ranking of the top 300 companies, organizations and universities and interactive dashboard can be found HERE.

Access to the Patent 300® Premium Interactive Dashboard is available upon request.

About Harrity Patent Analytics

Harrity Patent Analytics, a team of professionals within the boutique IP law firm of Harrity & Harrity, LLP, uses cutting-edge capabilities to analyze patent data and extract insights for strategic decisions regarding patent portfolios.  Patent 300® companies rely on Harrity Patent Analytics services to better understand their own patent portfolios, those of their competitors, their key technology areas, and to keep track of patent office trends around the world.  For more information, visit harrityllp.com/services/patent-analytics.

 

#KeepTheBeat Challenge Fights Against Heart Disease

WASHINGTON, DC (February 3, 2020) Local heart attack survivor John Harrity, of Harrity & Harrity, LLP, has launched a campaign to raise awareness and support for the American Heart Association with a unique challenge, dubbed the “Keep the Beat Challenge.” The campaign kicked off on February 1st in alignment with the start of American Heart Month, a federally designated program founded in the 1960s to raise awareness of the prevalence of heart disease, the leading cause of death in the world today.

The challenge began with a video featuring Harrity performing an original rap about the disease, after which he challenged several others to “keep the beat going.” The challenge is intended to encourage communities nationwide to focus on heart health, educate individuals on preventing heart disease, and generate support for the American Heart Association.

The cause is particularly meaningful to Harrity, who, despite showing no risk factors for heart disease, suffered a near fatal “widow-maker” heart attack in 2016.

“I was in the best shape of my life, and I experienced the worst type of heart attack you can have. Hours later, at the hospital, my situation got gravely worse. I experienced bleeding into my lungs, which sent me into respiratory distress, and eventually led to multiple organ failure. During that first day in the hospital, my wife was told more than a half of a dozen times that the chances of me surviving were very slim. My cardiologist said the odds of me making it through those first few weeks were a million to one,” said Harrity.

Harrity was fortunately with friends, who quickly called 9-1-1 and administered CPR before the ambulance rushed him, unconscious, to the hospital.  Harrity spent three weeks in a coma and an additional five weeks of grueling recovery in an intensive care unit in Virginia. Despite his doctor’s unfavorable odds, Harrity survived the attack and made an incredible recovery. His unlikely rehabilitation compelled him to implement a giving back initiative at his firm, with a focus on the crucial work of the American Heart Association.

“From the second I woke up and understood what had happened, I was laser focused on two things: getting back to 100% and ensuring that I don’t waste my heart attack. If I just went back to my old way of life, then this traumatic experience would have been for nothing. I have no intention of wasting my heart attack. During the following five weeks, as I lay in intensive care regaining my ability to speak and move, my twin brother and I had many conversations. We knew we needed to do more, we needed to be purpose driven. It was in that bed at Fairfax Hospital that the foundation for Harrity 4 Charity, our giving back initiative, was born.”

However, Harrity wasn’t done there. Inspired by the success of the “Ice Bucket Challenge,” which raised over $115 million in one summer for the ALS Association, Harrity crafted the idea of Keep the Beat. The goal of challenge is to spread awareness of the reality of heart disease and the mission behind the American Heart Association. One-hundred percent of donations raised by the challenge go directly to the American Heart Association through a text-to-donate number and heart.org webpage and will fund research, prevention, and treatments of this universal killer- instrumental factors in decreasing the shocking mortality rate by heart disease and stroke worldwide.

“When you participate in the Keep the Beat Challenge, you are supporting the American Heart Association, and serving as a beacon for others to support our lifesaving mission in a unique and powerful way! Thank you for joining us in the fight against heart disease; the number one killer of all Americans. Together, we are a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives!” said Soula Antoniou, Executive Director of the American Heart Association.

To participate, upload a video to social media of yourself keeping a beat in honor of American Heart Month and challenge at least three others to do the same. Tag and follow the Keep the Beat Challenge on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter and the hashtags #KeeptheBeat and #Harrity4Charity to watch challenge videos and learn more about the campaign.

To hear John’s whole story and to donate to the Keep the Beat Challenge for the American Heart Association, visit the Heart.org Campaign Page or text “KEEPTHEBEAT” to 41444 .

 

About Harrity 4 Charity

Harrity 4 Charity represents a partnering of law firm Harrity & Harrity, LLP, with charities that are near and dear to our hearts. Harrity partners pledge to give five percent of profits to partner charities and all Harrity employees pledge to donate a portion of their paychecks. Harrity & Harrity is a patent preparation and prosecution firm specializing in the electrical and mechanical technology areas and is considered a Go-To Firm for the Patent 300®. Our clients have come to trust in our high-quality work, experienced people, industry leading innovation, and outstanding service. For more information, visit harrityllp.com.

Harrity Named a “Best Place to Work” in 2020

FAIRFAX, VA (January 31, 2020) Harrity & Harrity, LLP, a nationally recognized patent law firm, has been named one of the 2020 Best Places to Work in Virginia by Virginia Business Magazine and Best Companies Group.

The 2020 Best Places to Work in Virginia list is part of a statewide survey and awards program which identifies the 100 best places of employment in Virginia. The list is determined by evaluating each nominated company’s workplace policies, practices, philosophy, systems and demographics, as well as the results of employee experience surveys measuring the overall employee satisfaction. Only companies with the highest combined scores receive recognition as a Best Places to Work in Virginia winner.

“It is an honor to have been named one of Virginia’s Best Places to Work in 2020. Since our inception 20 years ago, the partners at Harrity have always focused on fostering a positive, exciting, and rewarding firm culture. Our people are the core of our business and our success comes from recruiting and retaining the best talent. This means constantly learning and evolving to improve the type of environment we provide and ensuring that our employees have the resources and support they need to succeed,” said John Harrity, Managing Partner at Harrity, LLP. “This award is a fantastic recognition of that.”

As a boutique IP firm specializing in the preparation and prosecution of electrical and mechanical patent applications, Harrity maintains a robust and prestigious client base, consisting of a number of Patent 300® companies and some of the leading technology companies in the world. In addition to high-quality work, experienced practitioners, and outstanding service, Harrity employees highlighted the firm’s cutting-edge innovation, dedication to charity, progressive diversity initiatives, generous benefits, and flexible remote policy as factors that set Harrity aside from typical workplaces.

Harrity will join other top ranked companies at an awards luncheon on January 31, 2020, at the Boar’s Head Inn in Charlottesville, where the official 2020 Best Places to Work in Virginia announcement will be made.

To learn more about what makes Harrity a great place to work and to view current career opportunities, visit the Harrity Careers Page.

About Harrity & Harrity, LLP

Harrity & Harrity is a patent preparation and prosecution firm specializing in the electrical and mechanical technology areas and is considered a Go-To Firm for the Patent 300®. Our clients have come to trust in our high-quality work, experienced people, industry leading innovation, and outstanding service. For more information, visit harrityllp.com.

Elaine Spector Named First Female Partner at Harrity, LLP

WASHINGTON, DC (January 28, 2020) Harrity & Harrity, LLP is pleased to announce Elaine Spector as one of three newly named partners at the firm.  Already a driving force in legal innovation, diversity initiatives, and charity involvement, Elaine’s new role is sure to implement even more progressive ideas at Harrity.

“Truly, something extraordinary is happening here at Harrity; where a woman, or any other lawyer for that matter, can have the opportunity to be a partner, but not at the sacrifice of their family.  I am unaware of any other firms that provide the flexibility that Harrity offers; that can allow a mom like myself (who likes to cook for her family and be involved) an opportunity to work reduced hours, while still caring for my family in a way that feels good to me,” said Elaine.  “I am very excited for the opportunity I’ve been given and for what the future holds for this awesome firm.  The best is yet to come.”

Elaine is a patent attorney with over 20 years of experience in intellectual property law.  Her current practice consists primarily of prosecuting patent applications with a focus on electromechanical technologies. She is Harrity’s first female partner.

Prior to joining Harrity & Harrity, Elaine worked in private practice for over 15 years handling various intellectual property matters, including patent application drafting and prosecution, trademark prosecution and enforcement, as well as litigating complex patent cases in federal courts. Elaine’s extensive litigation experience provides her with a unique perspective in prosecuting patent applications.

Most recently, Elaine worked in-house for 6 years at Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures, where she managed over 500 matters in medical and software related technologies before moving to Harrity, LLP in May, 2017.

Elaine serves as Chair of the Harrity Diversity Committee and Chair of the AIPLA Women in IP Law Committee’s Global Networking Event and Outreach Subcommittees. She is also on the IPO Diversity Committee’s Management Team and is a Board Member at the non-profit No More Stolen Childhoods.

To learn more about Elaine’s background and leadership involvement, please visit her Harrity Bio Page.

 

About Harrity & Harrity, LLP

Harrity & Harrity is a patent preparation and prosecution firm specializing in the electrical and mechanical technology areas and is considered a Go-To Firm for the Patent 300®. Our clients have come to trust in our high-quality work, experienced people, industry leading innovation, and outstanding service. For more information, visit harrityllp.com.

Clause 8’s Eli Mazour Named Partner

WASHINGTON, DC (January 28, 2020) Harrity & Harrity, LLP is excited to announce that Eli Mazour has been named partner of the firm. Mazour’s expert knowledge of the patent field, creativity and efficiency in patent prosecution, strong business acumen, and large network within the patent community will be crucial factors in the growth and advancement of the firm. He is one of three new partners at Harrity, as announced by the firm last week.

“I’m excited to now be a partner at America’s most innovative patent preparation and prosecution boutique,” commented Mazour.  “This will allow me to continue to provide the greatest possible value to technology companies that are interested in growing high-quality patent portfolios that best fit their business needs.”

Mazour leads the firm’s patent prosecution team with a focus on helping Patent 300® companies build valuable, high-quality patent portfolios in an efficient manner. He has extensive experience in all aspects of patent prosecution, including preparing and prosecuting hundreds of patent applications related to computer software, Internet and e-commerce, telecommunications, networking devices, electronic consumer products, and medical devices.

Mazour has specific expertise in developing and implementing innovative patent prosecution strategies for reaching favorable results at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. He assists clients in evaluating existing patent portfolios, identifying strategic areas for patenting, and creating processes for harvesting disclosures of patentable inventions.

Mazour began his patent law career at the law firm of Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett, & Dunner and has been with Harrity, LLP since 2010. Throughout his tenure, Mazour has been helping clients resolve complex patent assertion and licensing issues. As a result, he is keenly aware of the pitfalls to avoid and opportunities to grasp during patent prosecution.

In addition to providing outstanding prosecution support, Mazour is the creator and host of the Clause 8 podcast, which was recently picked up by the IP field’s largest online publication, IPWatchdog.com.  Clause 8 features interviews with prominent members of the IP community in which the most interesting and influential topics of today’s patent world are discussed. As a result, Mazour is sought out by clients and professionals for his insight on various patent policy developments, including legislative proposals and changes at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Mazour has also partaken in several speaking engagements focused on patentability and authored a number of articles on patent strategy.

To learn more about Mazour’s background, and to view all of his speaking engagements and publications, please visit his Harrity Bio Page.

 

About Harrity & Harrity, LLP

Harrity & Harrity is a patent preparation and prosecution firm specializing in the electrical and mechanical technology areas and is considered a Go-To Firm for the Patent 300™ Our clients have come to trust in our high-quality work, experienced people, industry leading innovation, and outstanding service. For more information, visit harrityllp.com.

Senior Associate Neil Kardos Promoted to Partner

WASHINGTON, DC (January 28, 2020) Harrity & Harrity, LLP is pleased to announce that senior associate Neil Kardos has recently been named partner.  As the firm continues to expand, Neil will play a key role in its ability to stay current with new technologies, provide excellent service to the firm’s clients, become increasingly efficient, develop patent automation tools, and drive forward-thinking business development. Neil is one of three new partners at Harrity, as announced by the firm last week.

“I’m excited and thankful to be part of an innovative firm that’s blazing a trail toward what a patent law firm should look like,” Neil said of the announcement.

Neil is a patent attorney specializing in preparing and prosecuting patent applications. His practice focuses on electrical, computer, and mechanical technologies, including telecommunications, 5G, vehicle-to-everything (V2X) systems, financial technologies, computer hardware and software systems, computer networking, search engines, optical systems, internet hardware and software systems, machinery, sensors, control systems, e-commerce, and business methods.

Neil is actively involved with the Intellectual Property Owner’s Association (IPO) and has spoken at the IPO annual meeting on several occasions, most recently about diversity and gender disparity among inventors.  He has partaken in several speaking engagements regarding innovation and the IP field, including presentations at IPO and the Corporate IP Institute as a panel member to analyze and discuss trends in corporate IP management, as well as to share strategies for using patent analytics to manage IP portfolios and IP teams. As part of his work on the IPO’s Corporate IP Management Committee, for which he has served as Vice Chair, Neil helped develop a benchmarking survey that assists in-house counsel in the management of their IP departments and patent portfolios.

Prior to joining Harrity, Neil worked as a Primary Patent Examiner at the United States Patent and Trademark Office, where he examined patent applications directed to computer-related technologies, operations research, e-commerce, computer software, complex network analysis, internet applications, and business methods. While working at the USPTO, Neil attended The George Washington University National Law Center and served as a member of The George Washington Law Review. He has been with Harrity, LLP since April of 2012.

To learn more about Neil’s background, and to view all of his speaking engagements and publications, please visit his Harrity Bio Page.

 

About Harrity & Harrity, LLP

Harrity & Harrity is a patent preparation and prosecution firm specializing in the electrical and mechanical technology areas and is considered a Go-To Firm for the Patent 300®. Our clients have come to trust in our high-quality work, experienced people, industry leading innovation, and outstanding service. For more information, visit harrityllp.com.

Harrity Promotes Three Attorneys to Partner, Including First Female Partner

WASHINGTON, DC (January 24, 2020) Harrity & Harrity, a leading patent law firm based in the Washington, DC metro area, is pleased to announce the promotion of three top patent attorneys into partner roles, effective January 1, 2020.

Neil Kardos, Eli Mazour, and Elaine Spector have consistently demonstrated excellence in their practices while going above and beyond to contribute to the firm’s accomplishments in the intellectual property sector. The announcement comes at a time when Harrity is on track to be national leaders in innovation, automation, analytics, charity, and diversity initiatives in the legal field. The transition of Neil, Eli, and Elaine into partnership roles will be a driving force in the continued growth and advancement of the firm.

“Neil, Elaine and Eli are an exceptional group of talent. During their collective time at Harrity, each has demonstrated a tremendous amount of leadership, innovation, efficiency, and progression, both within the firm and the IP community as a whole- all while providing top quality services to our clients. We are thrilled to have these three attorneys begin a new chapter with us as partners and know they will play an instrumental role in furthering Harrity’s accomplishments into the new decade,” said the firm’s Managing Partner, John Harrity.

Neil Kardos, a former Primary Patent Examiner at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and active member of the Intellectual Property Owner’s Association (IPO) and Corporate IP Institute, specializes in preparing and prosecuting patent applications. His practice focuses on electrical, computer, and mechanical technologies, including telecommunications, 5G, vehicle-to-everything (V2X) systems, financial technologies, computer hardware and software systems, computer networking, search engines, optical systems, internet hardware and software systems, machinery, sensors, control systems, e-commerce, and business methods. Neil is a graduate of The George Washington University National Law Center and has been with Harrity since April of 2012.

Eli Mazour joined Harrity in 2010 and currently leads the firm’s patent prosecution team with a focus on helping Patent 300® companies build valuable, high-quality patent portfolios in an efficient manner. In this role, he develops and implements best practices for managing workflow and innovative patent prosecution strategies for reaching favorable results at the USPTO. Eli is also the creator and host of the Clause 8 podcast, which features interviews with prominent members of the IP community, and has written and presented about various patent-related trends. As a result, he is sought out by clients and other professionals for his insights on various patent policy developments, including legislative proposals and changes at the USPTO.

Elaine Spector has over 20 years of experience in intellectual property law. Her extensive experience in the IP field includes patent application drafting and prosecution, trademark prosecution and enforcement, as well as litigating complex patent cases in federal courts. Elaine’s current practice consists primarily of prosecuting patent applications with a focus on electromechanical technologies. Elaine is a driving force in legal service quality, diversity programs, and charity involvement at the firm, and currently serves as Chair of the Harrity Diversity Committee and Chair of the AIPLA Women in IP Law Committee’s Global Networking Event and Outreach Subcommittees. She is also on the IPO Diversity Committee’s Management Team and is a Board Member at the non-profit No More Stolen Childhoods. Elaine has been with Harrity since 2017 and is the firm’s first female partner.

“Truly, something extraordinary is happening here at Harrity; where a woman, or any other lawyer for that matter, can have the opportunity to be a partner, but not at the sacrifice of their family.  I am unaware of any other firms that provide the flexibility that Harrity offers; that can allow a mom like myself (who likes to cook for her family and be involved) an opportunity to work reduced hours, while still caring for my family in a way that feels good to me,” said Elaine.  “I am very excited for the opportunity I’ve been given and for what the future holds for this awesome firm.  The best is yet to come.”

About Harrity & Harrity, LLP

Harrity & Harrity is a patent preparation and prosecution firm specializing in the electrical and mechanical technology areas and is considered a Go-To Firm for the Patent 300®. Our clients have come to trust in our high-quality work, experienced people, industry leading innovation, and outstanding service. For more information, visit harrityllp.com.

Kevin Jakel of Unified Patents Pt. 2 – Clause 8 – Episode 15

Tune into Eli Mazour‘s Clause 8 Podcast for the second and final part of our interview with Kevin Jakel, the founder and CEO of Unified Patents. On this episode, we continue the conversation with Kevin about how Unified Patents operates, discuss Unified Patents’ new program for targeting Standard Essential Patents (SEPs), debate whether the patent troll narrative has been overblown, talk about the patent quality problem, and delve into some other patent policy issues related to IPRs and the PTAB. We also find out what Kevin has in common with George Costanza!

Listen and subscribe on IPwatchdog.com.

Kevin Jakel of Unified Patents Pt. 1 – Clause 8 – Episode 14

Tune into Clause 8 Podcast as Harrity’s Eli Mazour delves into the unique and impressive story of Unified Patents with founder & CEO Kevin Jakel

“Either because it wants to keep patent owners on edge, does not want to provide ammunition to those who question how independently it really operates from its members, or for some other reason, Unified Patents has not publicly disclosed how it decides what patents to target. This interview with Kevin tries to resolve some of that mystery surrounding Unified Patents.”

Listen and subscribe on IPwatchdog.com.

#patents #ipnews #patentnews #unifiedpatents #interviews #patentinsights #podcast #subscribe #clause8 #elimazour #kevinjakel #patenttrolls #ptab #aia

top patent firms

2019 Top Patent Firms List Announced

WASHINGTON (January 14, 2020) – Harrity Patent Analytics is pleased to announce the publication of its annual list of top patent law firms.  The 2019 Top Patent Firms” list ranks industry leading patent law firms based on the total number of U.S. utility patents issued in 2019. 

The 2019 Top Patent Firms list comes with some significant changes from years prior, including an interactive dashboard and exclusive metrics.  We have collected and analyzed data on more than 300,000 patents obtained by over 3000 different law firms, which we have turned into an interactive online dashboard that allows users to filter data by firm, technology area, and USPTO technology center.  This gives both patent law firms and Patent 300 companies a better understanding of who is obtaining the most patents in the U.S.,” explains Rocky Berndsen, Head of Patent Analytics at Harrity.  “We are also offering premium analytics that delve deeper into detailed patent prosecution metrics, giving law firms and Patent 300™ companies more insights into the robust analytics of specific law firms.” 

The Top Patent Firms dashboard includes patent firms that have obtained at least 50 U.S. utility patents where the patent firms are listed on the front of the utility patents. Company legal departments have not been eliminated from the list.  The full list is available here.

About Harrity Patent Analytics 

Harrity Patent Analytics, an analytical team within the boutique IP law firm of Harrity & Harrity, LLP, uses cutting-edge capabilities to analyze patent data and extract insights for clients to use when making strategic decisions regarding patent portfolios.  Patent 300™ companies rely on Harrity Patent Analytics services to understand their patent portfolios, the patent portfolios of their competitors, and patent office trends around the world.  For more information, visit harrityllp.com/services/patent-analytics/. 

 

IPWatchdog Picks Up Clause 8 Podcast

IPWatchdog, Inc., the largest online publication for IP news, is now home to Eli Mazour’s Clause 8 Podcast.

Mazour, Partner at Harrity, LLP and host of Clause 8, began the podcast in 2017 as a way to share his passion for discussing intellectual property issues. He routinely meets with the most interesting and influential personalities in the IP field, provoking intriguing conversations on modern patent processes and legal innovation.

Stay in the know by listening and subscribing now at https://bit.ly/39TZP2y.

 

$750 Million Dollar Patent Infringement Award May Hinge on Whether a Certificate of Correction was Properly Issued to Fix a “Typo”

By Steven Underwood, Counsel

On December 15, 2019, a Los Angeles jury found that Kite Pharma Inc. (“Kite”) had willfully infringed a cancer-treatment patent licensed by Juno Therapeutics Inc. from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Sloan Kettering Institute for Cancer Research (collectively, “MSKCC”), and held that Kite should pay MSKCC $752 million.  The litigation (Juno Therapeutics Inc. et al. v. Kite Pharma Inc., case number 2:17-cv-07639, C.D. Cal.) was widely reported in the press as potentially hinging on whether the patent-in-suit (U.S. Pat. No. 7,446,190) contained a simple “typo.”

During the litigation, Kite argued that the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (PTO) had erroneously issued a Certificate of Correction (CoC) because the “[t]he mistake corrected by the certificate of correction . . . was not of a clerical or typographical nature and was not of minor character,” as required under 35 U.S.C. § 255.  Kite’s position was that the CoC should not have been granted, and that if the CoC had not been granted, Kite clearly would not infringe the claims of the patent.

In order to understand the nature of the mistake corrected by the CoC, we must briefly consider the claims.  Claim 1 of the patent requires a “nucleic acid polymer encoding a chimeric T cell receptor comprising . . . a costimulatory signaling region [that] comprises the amino acid sequence encoded by SEQ ID NO:6.”  Therefore, infringement of claim 1 can be determined only by reference to the definition of SEQ ID NO:6 (which is provided in the specification of the patent) – and that definition was modified by the CoC (seven bases, out of 328, were deleted).

When the application was filed on May 28, 2003, the SEQ ID NO:6 listing was, as explained by MSKCC to the PTO, incorrect.  On September 4, 2007, after receiving a Notice of Allowance, MSKCC submitted a Request for Continued Examination (RCE) with an Amendment that requested the same changes to the specification that were subsequently requested by the CoC.  In the Amendment, MSKCC argued that the changes were not new matter, since one skilled in the art would have recognized, as clerical errors, the errors being corrected.  As required, a copy of the revised sequence listing on a computer-readable disk was submitted with the Amendment.  However, on November 2, 2007, the Amendment was rejected by the PTO, on the ground that the sequence listing disk submitted with the Amendment was “flawed technically.” After two attempts, in April 2008 MSKCC submitted, along with a corrected paper copy of the sequence listing, a copy of the disk that was accepted, and on November 4, 2008, the patent issued.

However, while the April 2008 submission made corrections that were requested by the PTO, those corrections were made to the original, not the amended, specification.  Consequently, the changes requested in the September 2007 Amendment/RCE were undone by the April 2008 submission.  As summarized in MSKCC’s Request of Correction: “Sequence ID Nos. 4 and 6 in the printed patent therefore contain the same errors that the RCE was filed to address.”  Thus, MSKCC argued, “The resubmission of the incorrect Sequence listing occurred through clerical error . . . and was not made in bad faith. The correction requested does not involve such changes in the patent as would constitute new matter . . . as it was the change that was presented to the Examiner in the initial amendment and arguments filed with the RCE.”

Regardless of the ultimate outcome of this case (an appeal seems likely), the clear takeaway for clients and practitioners is that a second pair of eyes should carefully review each filing with the PTO, including patent applications and responses.  Such a review will substantially reduce the risk of a patent application being filed with the wrong information, and better ensure that any mistakes are properly corrected.  As this case demonstrates, whether errors are properly (and promptly) corrected during prosecution may affect the validity or enforceability of a corresponding patent.

Harrity Team Helps Stock Santa’s Secret Workshop Shelves

Duffy House is a non-profit organization that provides a supportive safe haven to women and children who have survived abuse. Santa’s Secret Workshop is a holiday event that allows survivor children to “buy” gifts for their families at no cost to them, so that they can celebrate the holidays without the worry of financial burden. 

The team at Harrity has pulled together gifts and dollar donations to ensure the workshop shelves are stocked with a variety of items to allow every child to find just the right gift for their family members. We extend our warmest wishes to Duffy House families this holiday season.

To learn more about Harrity 4 Charity or to become involved in our charity initiative, visit harrityllp.com/charity.

About Harrity & Harrity, LLP

Harrity & Harrity is a patent preparation and prosecution firm specializing in the electrical and mechanical technology areas and is considered a Go-To Firm for the Patent 300™. Our clients have come to trust in our high-quality work, experienced people, industry leading innovation, and outstanding service. For more information, visit harrityllp.com.

 

Elaine Spector Named Harrity Diversity Committee Chair

We are proud to announce Elaine Spector as the new Chair of the Harrity Diversity Committee.

Elaine is already involved in several diversity-focused initiatives and we look forward to seeing her next accomplishments as she continues to promote inclusion within the patent law field.

Of the new role, Elaine states:

“I am honored to assume the position of Diversity Chair of Harrity’s Diversity Committee. Like our firm, our diversity team members are innovators, collectively finding solutions to address not only diversity issues within our firm, but also diversity issues within the patent profession at large. With the introduction of our Minority Firm Incubator, we are committed to not just talking the talk, but walking the walk.”

To learn more about the progressive work of Elaine and our Diversity Committee, and how you can become involved, please visit harrityllp.com/diversity.

Harrity Continues to Expand, Adding Four Patent Attorneys, Two Law Clerks

Harrity & Harrity, LLP, a leading patent preparation and prosecution law firm, is pleased to announce the addition of four highly skilled patent attorneys and two law clerks to its legal team. This includes Joseph Lentivech, a former Administrative Patent Judge with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and Marine Corp. Veteran, who the firm announced last week returned as counsel.

“We are excited for this seasoned group of superstars to join our team and assist the firm in continuing to provide excellent customer service to our Patent 300 clients,” said Partner Paul Harrity. “It’s great to have Joe back as he brings highly valuable experience and insights through his recent work as a USPTO Administrative Patent Judge that will greatly benefit our clients.”

Patrick Hansen, based in Raleigh, NC, specializes in the preparation and prosecution of patent applications in electrical, computer, and mechanical technologies.  Hansen has represented petitioners and patent owners in post-grant proceedings before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board.  He utilizes his comprehensive understanding of the industry and extensive legal experience to build high quality patent portfolios.

Joseph Lentivech, based in Mobile, AL, specializes in the preparation and prosecution of patent applications in electrical and computer technologies, including telecommunications and computer hardware and software systems.  Lentivech returns to the firm, where he was a patent attorney for four years, after working as an Administrative Patent Judge at the USPTO, where he decided appeals from adverse examiner decisions in patent applications directed to electrical and computer-related technologies and business methods.

McCord Rayburn, based in Charlotte, NC, has significant experience in all aspects of patent preparation and prosecution for U.S. and international applications, including leading teams of patent attorneys to efficiently obtain high-value patent protection.  Rayburn brings extensive technical knowledge and international legal experience, including the coordination of inbound U.S. national stage patent application filings for foreign corporations with global patent portfolios.

Bret Tingey, based in Raleigh, NC, focuses his practice on patent preparation and prosecution for inventors in mechanical and electrical technology fields.  He began his legal career with a specialty in IP litigation and wrote memos and briefs, including those for submission to the United States Supreme Court.  He primarily focuses on patent preparation and prosecution, applying his litigation experience to every patent that he drafts or prosecutes.

Sora Ko, based in the Washington, D.C. metro area, is a law clerk specializing in patent preparation and prosecution before the USPTO. She has experience in different aspects of patent prosecution, including assisting with the preparation and prosecution of patent applications related to computer software, telecommunications, networking devices, and mechanical devices.  Ko previously served as Editor-in-Chief of The University of Richmond Law Review and worked as a summer associate at Harrity & Harrity before joining the firm full-time.

Abigail Troy based in the Washington, D.C. metro area, joins Harrity as a law clerk specializing in the preparation and prosecution of patent applications with a focus on computer hardware and software, telecommunications, computer networking, business methods, and consumer products.  She is a former Primary Patent Examiner at the USPTO, where she worked for nearly a decade examining patent applications directed to mechanical devices, including jewelry and fasteners. Troy also worked as a training assistant in the Patent Training Academy and as a technology center trainer in TC 3600.

About Harrity & Harrity, LLP

Harrity & Harrity is a patent preparation and prosecution firm specializing in the electrical and mechanical technology areas and is considered a Go-To Firm for the Patent 300™. Our clients have come to trust in our high-quality work, experienced people, industry leading innovation, and outstanding service. For more information, visit harrityllp.com.

 

Joseph Lentivech Harrity Counsel

Former USPTO Administrative Patent Judge and Marine Corp. Veteran Joseph Lentivech III Rejoins Harrity as Counsel

WASHINGTON (December 5, 2019) – Harrity & Harrity, LLP is pleased to announce that Joseph P. Lentivech III, a former administrative patent judge with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), has returned to the firm as counsel. He was a patent attorney at Harrity & Harrity from July 2010 until late 2014 when he joined the USPTO.

“We are thrilled to welcome Joe back to our firm,” said Harrity & Harrity Managing Partner John Harrity. “Joe brings highly valuable experience and insights through his recent work as a USPTO administrative patent judge that will greatly benefit our clients.”

Lentivech will be joining Harrity’s patent application drafting team, where he will draft patent applications for the leading technology companies in the world.  He will also oversee all PTAB appeals at the firm.

As an administrative patent judge, Lentivech served as a member of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) of the USPTO. The PTAB conducts trials, including inter partes, post-grant, and covered business method patent reviews and derivation proceedings; hears appeals from adverse examiner decisions in patent applications and reexamination proceedings; and renders decisions in interferences.

Lentivech also was a patent attorney at Brouse McDowell L.P.A. before his earlier stint at Harrity & Harrity. Prior to his law career, Lentivech served with the U.S. Marine Corp., most recently as a captain/artillery officer.

Lentivech received his J.D. (cum laude) from the University of Akron School of Law and his Bachelor of Science from State University of New York at Buffalo.

About Harrity & Harrity, LLP

Harrity & Harrity is a patent preparation and prosecution firm specializing in the electrical and mechanical technology areas and is considered a Go-To Firm for the Patent 300™. Our clients have come to trust in our high-quality work, experienced people, industry leading innovation, and outstanding service. For more information, visit harrityllp.com.

Harrity’s Elaine Spector Named AIPLA’s Women in IP Law Outreach Subcommittee Chair

Congratulations to the newly named chair of the American Intellectual Property Law Association (AIPLA)‘s Women in IP Law Outreach subcommittee, Harrity’s own Elaine Spector.

“I am excited to take on my new role as chair of AIPLA’s Women in IP Law Outreach subcommittee. The Outreach subcommittee is responsible for coordinating the Women in IP breakfast at each stated meeting, as well as overseeing the Global Networking Event and Community Events. This position has also allowed me to become part of the Executive Team within AIPLA’s Women in IP committee, and to work with some truly amazing women in our field. In my new role, I am looking forward to further advancing the needle for women IP practitioners,” states Elaine.

To learn more about Elaine’s roles in driving diversity in the IP legal field, visit harrity.com/diversity.

 

In Design Patents, Claim Language Matters

By Ryan Thelen, Associate

Often when a design patent application is prepared, the primary focus and effort of the drafting process is given to the drawings, while little thought is given to the wording of the actual claim.  However, the Federal Circuit recently issued a decision in a case of first impression in Curver Luxembourg, SARL v. Home Expressions Inc., 2018-2214 (Fed. Cir. Sep 12, 2019), in which the Federal Circuit highlighted how the words in a design patent claim can limit the scope of a design illustrated in a patent drawing.

Curver is the assignee of U.S. design patent no. D677,946 (’946 patent), which claims an “ornamental design for a pattern for a chair.”  However, the drawings of the ’946 patent do not show a chair and merely illustrate an overlapping Y design.  The term “chair” was added to the claim and title during prosecution as a result of an examiner objection to the use of the term “furniture part.”

Curver sued Home Expressions on the basis that Home Expressions sells baskets that incorporate an overlapping “Y” shape that infringes the ’946 patent.  The United States  District Court for the District of New Jersey first construed the scope of the ’946 patent to include the design illustrated in the drawings as applied to a chair, and then determined that Home Expressions’s baskets do not infringe under the “ordinary observer” test.  The District Court reasoned that the scope of the ’946 patent is limited to the article of manufacture listed in the ’946 patent, and found that an ordinary observer would not purchase Home Expressions’s basket with the ornamental “Y” design believing that the purchase was for an ornamental “Y” design applied to a chair, as protected by the ’946 patent.”

On appeal, Curver took issue with the claim construction aspect of the District Court opinion, arguing that the District Court improperly limited the scope of the claim due to the word “chair” in the claim, rather than focusing on the design shown in the drawings in which no chair is present.  35 U.S.C. § 171 permits patent protection for a “new, original and ornamental design for an article of manufacture” (emphasis added), yet no article of manufacture was illustrated in the drawings of the ’946 patent.  Thus, the issue before the Federal Circuit is how to construe the scope of a design patent in which the claimed design is illustrated in the abstract (i.e., is not applied to an article of manufacture in the drawings).

The Federal Circuit held that “claim language can limit the scope of a design patent where the claim language supplies the only instance of an article of manufacture that appears nowhere in the figures.”  The Federal Circuit cited various persuasive sources to support its decision, such as Gorham Co. v. White (Sup. Ct. 1871), Ex parte Cady (USPTO 1916), 37 C.F.R. § 1.15, and the MPEP.  The Federal Circuit specifically noted that 37 C.F.R. § 1.15 permits the scope of a design patent to be defined by a combination of the drawings and the language of the design patent.

This case makes clear that when filing and prosecuting a design patent application, applicants and practitioners should ensure that the claimed design is tied to an actual “article of manufacture,” and should carefully choose the words that will be used in the claim, description, and title.

Analytics Chart on Laptop

WIPO Releases 2019 World Intellectual Property Indicators Report

Last month the World Intellectual Property Organization released the 2019 World Intellectual Property Indicators Report, a report showing considerable increase in worldwide patent applications.  Nearly half of all patent applications in 2018 were filed in China, with that number increasing to 66.8% if you consider all filings in Asia.  The top five countries receiving patent applications in 2018 were China (1.54 million), U.S. (597,141), Japan (313, 567), South Korea (209,992) and the European Patent Office (174.397).

Although US applicants lead the charge in foreign filings, applications filed at the USPTO are down slightly from 2017.  The last time the USPTO saw a decrease in patent applications was 2009. Despite the recent decrease in applications, the US maintains the top spot for patents in force, with 3.1 million out of 14 million active patents worldwide.

For more information on 2018 intellectual property trends, read the full report at the WIPO website, here.

 

Mind the Gap Analysis

Portfolio Gap Analysis of Globalfoundries and Taiwan Semiconductor

Globalfoundries and Taiwan Semiconductor announced an agreement to cross-license each other’s patents and those patents filed over the next ten years.

Below is gap analysis portfolio comparison of each company’s active U.S. patent families with the ability to filter the data by type of application, publication date, filing date, and cpc subclass description.

To learn more about how Harrity Patent Analytics can help you find insights into the patent world, contact us via email HERE.

TRY OUR INTERACTIVE DASHBOARD

 

USPTO October 2019 Update On Subject Matter Eligibility

By Tim Hirzel

The PTO’s Revised Patent Subject Matter Eligibility Guidance (2019 PEG) has been generally well received for providing a more reliable manner of applying the Alice/Mayo test used by the courts.  Even so, the 2019 PEG still left some matters unclear and the PTO has now responded to public feedback by providing further clarification in the October 2019 Update.  Below, we discuss the updates and how practitioners can use the updated guidance in practice.

Step 2A Prong One

In Step 2A Prong One, the 2019 PEG instructs examiners to evaluate whether a claim recites an abstract idea by a) identifying specific limitations in the claims believed to be an abstract idea, and b) determining whether the identified limitations fall within any of the three specific groupings of abstract ideas (mathematical concepts, certain methods of organizing human activity, and mental processes).

However, there was some question as to how explicitly limitations in the claims have to recite an abstract idea.  The October 2019 Update clarifies that “recites” should broadly be construed to mean that the claims either explicitly set forth the abstract idea or merely describe the abstract idea without explicitly using words that identify the abstract idea.  The PTO further clarifies that claims may recite multiple abstract ideas, which may fall in the same or different groupings, and that the groupings are not mutually exclusive (i.e., a single claim limitation may fall into more than one abstract idea grouping).

The October 2019 Update also provides clarification on what the three groupings of abstract ideas entail.

  • Mathematical Concepts – The 2019 PEG defines “mathematical concepts” as mathematical relationships, mathematical formulas or equations, and mathematical calculations. The PTO interprets the courts as having declined to distinguish between types of math when evaluating claims for eligibility, and the PTO will do the same.  For example, math used to solve a particular technical problem (e.g., an engineering problem) will still be considered to fall within the mathematical concepts grouping.  However, a claim does not recite a mathematical concept if it is only based on or involves a mathematical concept.
  • Certain Method of Organizing Human Activity – The PTO clarifies that not all methods of organizing human activity are abstract ideas, and this grouping is limited to only fundamental economic principles or practices, commercial or legal interactions, managing personal behavior, and relationships or interactions between people.
  • Mental Processes – Under the 2019 PEG, “mental processes” are concepts performed in the human mind, such as observations, evaluations, judgments, and opinions. A footnote in the 2019 PEG indicates that a claim limitation is not a mental process when it “cannot practically be performed in the mind.”  The October 2019 update expanded on this and clarified that this is “when the human mind is not equipped to perform the claim limitations.”  The PTO reemphasized that claims can recite a mental process even if they are performed by a computer in the claim and further clarified that there is no requirement that the claim be performed entirely in the human mind to fall into the mental processes grouping.

The 2019 PEG also allows for the possibility that a claim limitation that does not fall into one of the three groupings of abstract idea may be still determined to be an abstract idea upon TC Director approval.  The October 2019 update indicates that the public will be notified once such an office action issues.  At this time, the PTO has not provided any such notification.

Step 2A Prong Two

In Step 2A Prong Two, the 2019 PEG instructs examiners to evaluate whether the claim as a whole integrates the abstract idea into a practical application and gives several considerations in making this determination, such as: improving the functioning of a computer or a technical field, effecting a treatment for a medical condition, using the judicial exception with a particular machine, or transforming or reducing a particular article to a different state or thing.

The October 2019 Update reemphasized that this analysis considers the claim as a whole, and that the additional elements of the claim (i.e., those not identified as an abstract idea) are not to be evaluated separately from the limitations reciting the abstract idea.  Moreover, the PTO clarified that merely claiming a specific way of achieving a result is not a stand-alone consideration in Step 2A Prong Two and is not enough by itself to integrate the abstract idea into a practical application.  However, the specificity of the claims is relevant to the considerations related to using a particular machine, a particular transformation, and whether the limitations are mere instructions to apply an exception.

The October 2019 Update devotes lengthy discussion to how a claim improves the functioning of a computer or a technical field and provides a two-step procedure for how examiners are to perform this analysis.

  • Step One – Examiners are to evaluate the specification to determine if sufficient details are provided to establish the claimed invention provides an improvement to technology. However, there is no requirement that the specification explicitly recite the improvement.  The improvement is not relative to what is well-understood, routine, conventional activity in the field, but rather relative to existing technology.  Importantly, the PTO noted that an improvement to an abstract idea is not an improvement to technology.
  • Step Two – If the specification sets forth an improvement in technology, the claims must be analyzed to determine if the claims recite features that provide the improvement described in the specification. However, there is no need for the claims to explicitly recite the improvement.

Step 2B

In Step 2B, examiners are to evaluate whether the claims provide an inventive concept by reciting significantly more than the abstract idea.  The October 2019 Update itself provides almost no discussion or clarification of Step 2B other than to reemphasize that well-understood, routine, conventional activity will only be considered under Step 2B and not Step 2A.  However, the PTO provided Example 43 along with the October 2019 Update that shows how a claim can fail Step 2A but still be determined eligible under Step 2B.  Such an example was notably absent from the examples provided with the 2019 PEG.

Example 43 is a hypothetical based on the well-known Diamond v. Diehr case.  Example 43 is directed to a controller for an injection molding apparatus that repeatedly obtains temperature measurements of a mold, calculates an extent of curing completion based on the temperatures and an equation, and determines a percentage of curing completion.  Claim 3 specifies that the controller is connected to a means for temperature measuring (which is specifically interpreted to be an ARCXY thermocouple).  Under Step 2A Prong One, the claim is determined to recite a mathematical concept.  Under Step 2A Prong Two, the step of obtaining the temperature measurements is deemed to be insignificant extra-solution activity of data gathering and does not integrate the abstract idea into a practical application.  Notably, the fact that claim 3 uses an ARCXY thermocouple to obtain the temperature measurements is not considered in Step 2A Prong Two (not even to establish use of a particular machine).  Thus, claim 3 is determined to be directed to the abstract idea.

However, the consideration of whether the ARCXY thermocouple feature is mere insignificant extra-solution activity is reconsidered under Step 2B taking into account whether such extra-solution activity is well-known.  The PTO found that while use of ARCXY thermocouples is known in the aeronautical industry, the use of ARCXY thermocouples was not routine or conventional in injection molding apparatuses.  Because the ARXCY thermocouple resulted in better long-term performance, durability, and response time than other thermocouples, the result of using the unconventional thermocouple in the claimed manner amounts to significantly more than the abstract idea (i.e., mathematical concept) and the claim is patent eligible.

Key Takeaways

The October 2019 Update reinforces the idea that the best practice when drafting a patent application is to describe the invention as providing a technical solution to a technical problem.  In this way, should a Step 2A Prong One argument fail, practitioners can rely on a Step 2A Prong Two argument that the claims improve the functioning of a computer or other technology.  This argument seems to be the argument preferred by examiners and often cited by the courts as a basis for patent eligibility when there is a 101 issue.

Specifically, practitioners should keep in mind that examiners will heavily rely on the specification to determine if such a technical solution or technical improvement is provided.  The improvement should not be merely recited in a conclusory manner (e.g., an unsupported assertion that the invention provides a specific improvement), but should be explained in sufficient detail to tie specific features of the invention to the improvement.  Importantly, the claims should be drafted in such way to include the features that provide the improvement.  Examiners have often requested, or even required, that the claims explicitly recite the improvement to overcome a 101 rejection even though these claim features are often considered intended use or given little patentable weight.  The October 2019 update makes it clear this is not necessary.

The PTO also appears to narrow at least some of the three groupings of abstract ideas in Step 2A Prong One.  Practitioners should use this to their advantage when drafting applications to characterize features that may be arguably abstract in a way that avoids falling into the three groupings of abstract ideas.  For example, when appropriate, the application could describe the complexity of steps that may be arguably mental processes (e.g., determining steps, processing steps, analyzing steps, etc.) to establish that these steps cannot be practically performed in the human mind.  However, practitioners should be careful not to try to game the system by describing a simple step, which truly could be performed in the mind, as a complex step that cannot be performed in the mind because such a characterization could have unintended consequences for potential infringement and claim interpretation.  Moreover, if a feature truly could be performed in the mind, then there is most likely a better way to establish eligibility under Step 2A Prong Two or Step 2B.

The 2019 PEG stripped Step 2B of most of its previous considerations and moved them to Step 2A Prong Two.  While the 2019 PEG indicated that Step 2B was still a viable option to establish eligibility, there was little instruction on how practitioners could actually present a successful argument and no examples of succeeding under Step 2B were given.  Given this, examiners have been reluctant to seriously consider Step 2B arguments.  Although arguments under Step 2B are likely to remain an improbable way to overcome a 101 rejection in view of the of the October 2019 Update, practitioners should keep in mind that new Example 43 provides a manner of establishing an inventive concept and a rationale that can be used as a backup position under Step 2B going forward.  Therefore, practitioners should draft their specifications to highlight how their inventions differ from what is well-understood, routine, conventional in the field, even if it is a feature that is more tangentially related to the core invention that could be considered extra solution activity.

Overall, the October 2019 Update should help the PTO continue to provide more reliable subject matter eligibility analysis and clarify what kinds of arguments will successfully overcome a 101 rejection.

Top Companies in Blockchain Patents

By Rocky Berndsen

Blockchain is an emerging technology that has taken the world by storm.  In October 2008, Satoshi Nakamoto published a seminal paper, titled “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System“, and the age of blockchain was born.  Since then, entrepreneurs and large corporations have explored implementation of blockchain technology in financial transactions, smart contracts, automotive, retail, healthcare, energy, utilities, travel, supply chain, and gaming, among other industries.

Based on our analysis of active patents & pending applications, blockchain-related filings have increased significantly around the world in recent years.  For instance, there were only 126 filings in 2014, but by 2017 there were over 3,700 applications filed in the blockchain space.  In 2018, a year in which not all the filings have yet become public, there have already been over 8,200 filings.  The growth curve in blockchain filings is truly exponential.  It will be interesting to see over the coming years whether this trend continues.

TRY OUR INTERACTIVE DASHBOARD

Page 1 highlights the top players in the blockchain space, page 2 highlights the filing trends, and page 3 highlights the patent issuance trends.  You can click on elements (e.g., country code, company name, type filter, filing date filter) of the dashboard to filter the data.

The geographic distribution of filings is also very interesting.  To date, over 10,000 blockchain filings occurred in China, more than half of all blockchain related filings worldwide.  According to a recent Forbes article, nearly 70% of crypto mining activity occurs in China, creating significant interest in protecting IP in the crypto currency space.  The top ten filers of chinese patent applications in the blockchain space are as follows:

China Blockchain Patent Applications Filed (as of 10/1/2019)
RankCompanyActive Patents & Pending Applications
1Alibaba259
2CUNC189
3Hangzhou Fuzamei163
4Ping An151
5Baidu139
6Shenzhen Launch102
7Tencent102
8Zhongan IT89
9Shenzhen Oneconnect77
10Shenzhen Onething74

Notably, the U.S. has the second most blockchain filings, with over 2,700 filings.  In the U.S., the top ten filers of patent applications in the blockchain space are as follows:

US Blockchain Patent Applications Filed (as of 10/1/2019)
RankCompanyActive Patents & Pending Applications
1IBM252
2Alibaba93
3Bank of America81
4Mastercard73
5Wal-mart63
6Accenture52
7Intel46
8Nchain32
9Coinplug29
10TD Bank28

In comparison, the top ten U.S. patent owners in the blockchain space are as follows:

US Blockchain Patents Issued (as of 10/1/2019)
RankCompanyActive Patents
1IBM57
2Accenture26
3Bank of America24
4Mastercard13
5Winklevoss IP13
6Capital One12
7Dell9
8Vijay Madisetti9
9TD Bank9
10Blockchain Asics7

According to a recent report published by Accenture PLC, worldwide spending on blockchain solutions has a forecast annual growth rate (CAGR) of 76.0%, reaching $12.4 billion in 2022.  The blockchain space is still in the early stages of development, and it will be interesting to see how the technology evolves and who else enters the space.

To learn more about how Harrity Patent Analytics can help you find insights into the patent world, contact us via email HERE.

John Harrity, Harrity Team

Law360 Law Firm Leaders: Harrity & Harrity’s John Harrity

Law360 (October 16, 2019, 2:04 PM EDT) — John Harrity has served as managing partner of Harrity & Harrity LLP, the patent law firm he founded in 1999 with twin brother Paul Harrity, since 2016. During that time, the law firm’s revenue has grown by 127%, profits have gone up by 167% and the attorney headcount increased by 100%.

Here, Harrity discusses how his law firm has streamlined and automated the patent application process a la McDonald’s, why lawyers are not paid based on origination credits and why charity is such a big part of the firm’s culture.

How is your law firm different from a traditional law firm?

There’s a lot of ways that we’re different. From the very beginning, we’ve had this focus on quality. People talk about quality in our field, but one of the things we like to do when we talk about something is we want to make sure that it’s measurable. From the very beginning of our firm, my twin brother and I, we started with the traditional question: Why us? Why would anyone send us work over the thousands of firms doing patent prosecution and preparation? After some discussion, we honed in on quality. We implemented a couple of procedures, one was adopted from my brother’s former firm, Finnegan, and the other we created on our own.

We made sure everything goes through a very thorough second attorney review. It’s all about expectations here. Attorneys know that when they hand something in to me, there’s a certain level of quality that’s expected. And when we send things out to clients, there’s a certain expectation. When we send it to an inventor or in-house counsel, we’re going to send something that thoroughly, accurately and technically describes your invention and in our eyes is ready to be filed.

It’s tracking some statistics in relation to that to see: Are we succeeding or are we failing? How often, when we send out a patent application to an inventor or in-house counsel, do we get “looks good” [in response]? That’s our level of expectation. Going back to the beginning of the firm, so over the course of 20 years and having drafted over 5,000 patent applications, 67% of the time we’ve gotten a “looks good.”

The other [quality procedure] is writing style. I liken it to McDonald’s. Why is McDonald’s successful? Every McDonald’s you go to in the United States and you order their premier burger, the Big Mac, it’s going to have the same look, the exact same flavor every single time. And it’s going to come out in roughly the same amount of time. Our uniform writing style works exactly the same. Individual companies have preferences for how they want their patents to look, often the attorneys that work internally have individual preferences. We have a uniform writing style for every single attorney and every single company so that when they come to our firm, regardless of the drafting professional, they’re going to get their uniform writing style every single time.

Your firm has eliminated origination credits. Why have you done that and what kind of impact does it have?

Let’s think about origination credits. When you look inside these firms that have origination credits, what you see inside these firms are law firms within a law firm. You’ve got all of these partners with their origination credit, rowing in different directions. When you look at my firm, every client here is the firm’s client. We make business decisions about whether to bring on a client and whether to keep a client. Our firm’s mission is to be the No. 1 firm in the world doing what we do. We do patent applications and prosecution and we just do it in the electrical and mechanical space. I can tell you, every single individual at my firm, we’re all rowing in the same direction. Since we opened up 20 years ago, every single client has been the firm’s client. I might manage some of them and be the face to our firm for a particular client, but it’s the firm’s client, it’s not mine. That’s why we can be so agile, and move so quickly in the field, because we’re all rowing in the same direction.

How does the law firm then figure out how to determine whether a particular lawyer is successful?

We track some statistics internally. Every patent application that’s drafted at my firm, every response to a rejection from the patent office that’s drafted, goes through a second attorney review. And if I’m the reviewer, I fill out a scorecard and I’m grading this application or response on a little over a dozen different categories. This gives feedback to our attorneys. You can see your statistics for the year, you can compare them to last year. If you’re struggling in a particular area of drafting a patent application, don’t you want to know what that area is? There’s a quality score that all of our attorneys have.

There’s also a production element. One of the things we do is we pay our attorneys for production. We’ve experienced, in the lifetime of this firm, the same thing other firms experienced. The pricing of patent applications continually went up from 1999 until it plateaued for four to five years and then we started seeing it dip and it’s come down almost all the way to 1999 numbers. Back in 2013, one of our clients decreased their prices and we had a discussion internally and said, this is a wake-up call. We can walk away from the client and say we only do work for top-paying clients. If we do that, there will be less and less companies willing to pay top dollar and every firm in the United States is going to be lined up fighting for that work. The other route, the one we chose, is: Let’s get efficient. I put [the patent application process] in steps. Which of these steps must be performed by an attorney? All of the other steps, I hand those off to support staff members. And then, at the beginning of this year, I said: Let’s start automating some of the stuff the support staff is doing and let’s start automating some of the stuff the attorneys are doing.

2012 was before our efficiency journey. Our top drafting attorney drafted 54 patent applications that year, second place was 42. Last year, we had four attorneys draft more than 90 patent applications. We had one attorney in December draft 19 patent applications. This year our automation tools have rolled out. We have an attorney this year who is on track to draft 150 patent applications.

Let me tie that back into pay. You join our firm and when you’re assigned a patent application to draft, you’re given a number of hourly credits. If the hourly credit is 40 hours, you get that same hourly credit regardless of your actual time spent on it. So if you spend 40 hours, you’re getting hour-for-hour credit. If I can get you efficient, without sacrificing quality, down to 20 hours, now you’re drafting two patent applications. If I can get you down to 10 hours, then in that same 40 hour period you’re drafting four, which means you make four times as much money. The big producers at our firm make what partners make at other firms.

What tasks and processes have you automated?

One simple one I‘ll tell you about is form filling. There are certain forms that need to be filled out when you’re filing a patent application. And these forms were taking our staff about 15 to 30 minutes. Now it takes them about five seconds to fill them out — it’s being populated based on our docketing system.

You had a massive heart attack in 2016 at age 49, how has that impacted the way you operate your law firm?

Let me start with charity. I had this health scare back in 2016 and it really set the firm on a different course. I was in intensive care for eight weeks. It took me a couple of months after that to actually get back to the firm. I became hugely service-focused and that bled over to everything we do at the firm now. Harrity for Charity, that’s our giving back initiative. We’ve committed at the partner level to give 5% of profits to our partner charities. Those are the American Heart Association, that was my health scare, I had a heart attack; Inova Children’s Hospital; UNICEF; and Zero, which is the fight against prostate cancer. What makes Harrity for Charity infinitely better than the 5% coming out of partner profits is every single employee at my firm is committing a portion of their paycheck to one or more of these partner charities. Service is hugely important to us.

On the diversity side, we started our diversity journey kind of late in the game. We started our firm in 1999 and we started diversity efforts in November, 2015. At the time we started the conversation, we were 8% [ethnically] diverse at the attorney level. We implemented our Rooney Rule 2.0. What we’ve done is this. For every single position at my firm, support staff included, when we interview a white male for a position, we will interview a non-white male for that same position. Fast forward three years and we’ve gone from 8% diverse to 30% diverse today.

The newest thing we did is our minority firm incubator. It is a unique, innovative program. We’re willing to spend the time and money to make this thing successful. What we’re doing is creating minority-owned firms, female-owned firms that are replicas of our firm. We’re going to teach them what we do here and spin them off into their own firms. What makes the program a truly once-in-a-lifetime opportunity is we’re going to line up companies that will commit to give work to these minority-owned firms. Accenture has already made that commitment. The biggest pain point any time you start your own business is: Where am I going to get the work? We’re going to get [top patent-owning] companies to make that commitment to try them out.

They’re completely independent. They’re with us for three years; the fourth year, they leave our firm to start their own.

By Aebra Coe
Editing by Katherine Rautenberg

About Harrity & Harrity, LLP

Harrity & Harrity is a patent preparation and prosecution firm specializing in the electrical and mechanical technology areas and is considered a Go-To Firm for the Patent 300™. Our clients have come to trust in our high-quality work, experienced people, industry leading innovation, and outstanding service. For more information, visit harrityllp.com.

 

Harrity 4 Charity

Harrity Receives Washington Business Journal Corporate Citizenship Award

WASHINGTON (October 11, 2019) – Harrity & Harrity, LLP received the Washington Business Journal (WBJ) Corporate Citizenship Award in recognition of its partnership with the American Heart Association (AHA) of Greater Washington Region.

Part of the WBJ’s Corporate Philanthropy Awards, the Corporate Citizenship Award honors partnerships between Washington, D.C. metro area businesses and nonprofits that demonstrate positive outcomes for both organizations. Harrity and other winners will be formally honored in November at the WBJ’s annual Corporate Philanthropy Awards event.

“We greatly appreciate the Washington Business Journal’s recognition of our firm’s important work alongside the American Heart Association,” said Harrity Managing Partner John Harrity. “As a heart attack survivor, I am personally very proud of the tremendous support that the Harrity community continues to give to this cause to fight heart disease and stroke while saving and improving people’s lives.”

Harrity began its partnership with the AHA of Greater Washington in 2017, joining forces to fight heart disease by working to educate policy makers, health care professionals, and the general public, with the goal of one day ending heart disease. The partnership was borne out of John Harrity’s personal experience of suffering and recovering from a “widow maker” heart attack in 2016 at the age of 49. The following year, Harrity launched Harrity 4 Charity, through which Harrity partners pledge to give 5 percent of their profits and Harrity employees pledge to donate a portion of their paychecks to partner charities.

Since 2017, Harrity partners and employees have donated countless volunteer hours to fighting heart disease. The firm also partners with the AHA of Greater Washington for its annual Lawyers Have Heart 10K Race, 5K Run & Fun Walk, which this year raised more than $900,000 for the cause. The last two years, Harrity has not only been the top corporate sponsor of the race, but also the top fundraiser. Most recently, the AHA of Greater Washington named John Harrity and Harrity & Harrity Controller Sandra Maxey co-chairs of the 30th annual Lawyers Have Heart 10K Race, 5K Run & Fun Walk. Also as part of its commitment to the cause, Harrity hosts the annual Harrity Race 5K Run and 1 Mile Fun Run, with 100 percent of the event’s proceeds going to the AHA of Greater Washington.

About Harrity & Harrity, LLP

Harrity & Harrity is the nation’s leading patent preparation and prosecution firm specializing in the electrical and mechanical technology areas and is considered a Go-To Firm for the Patent 300™. Our clients have come to trust in our high-quality work, experienced people, industry leading innovation, and outstanding service. For more information, visit harrityllp.com.

Harrity Creates Incubator to Launch Minority- and Women-Owned Law Firms

LAW.COM (October 3, 2019) After years of reading about new legal diversity programs with nothing to show for it, Harrity & Harrity managing partner John Harrity decided he wanted to try something new.

Harrity & Harrity managing partner John Harrity was sick of reading about law firm diversity.

The effort to diversify firms, he agrees, is noble. But over the years he had read countless stories about how this new internship or mentorship program will mend the legal industry’s diversity problem. And despite all these efforts, nothing much has changed.

“We keep doing the same things over and over and over again,” said Harrity, who co-founded the IP firm 20 years ago. “If the programs were really impactful we wouldn’t be having these conversations today.”

After reading a book about apprenticeships, Harrity had an idea for something new: Why not incubate women- and minority-owned law firms?

he idea wasn’t a big hit when he first brought it before the firm’s diversity committee. The biggest objection was that the program would essentially create competition for the firm. Harrity didn’t see it that way.

John HarrityJohn Harrity

“The reality is that there’s a ton of work out there, much more than we could ever handle ourselves,” he said. “And if they’re really good and taking work away from us that means we need to up our game.”

Eventually, the program was approved, and Harrity got to work on structuring the incubator. For each of the next three years beginning Jan. 1, the firm will bring in one woman attorney and one male minority attorney. Candidates must be a licensed attorney with a degree in electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, computer science, physics or a similar technical field.

The first year of the three-year program will teach the candidates how to draft patent applications. In the second year, the attorneys will learn how to prosecute pending applications. The third year marks a shift from legal practice training to management training. Participants will be taught how to hire and train attorneys, establish and maintain an office and pitch and retain clients.

At the beginning of the fourth year, the participants will each launch their own women- and minority-owned law firm.

The minority attorney incubator program has partnered with professional services firm Accenture, which will send work to the nascent firms to help get them off the ground and build a portfolio. Harrity hopes to bring in more companies as the apprenticeship develops.

Joel Stern, CEO of the National Association of Minority and Women Owned Law Firms, described the program as “novel” and “innovative.” Stern spoke with Harrity about the incubator when it was in development, and he applauded his firm for creating an unselfish and innovative program—especially in an area of the law that has traditionally been devoid of minorities.

He hopes that these new firms will join NAMWOLF, which just announced it had helped more than 100 minority- and women-owned law firms win $1.6 billion in legal spend since 2010.

“You can’t just keep doing the same thing over and over again. Harrity is trying something new and novel that I think is going to work,” Stern said. “Even if it doesn’t, he deserves credit. He’s subordinating his interests to help minorities thrive in the business.”

To learn more about the Minority Firm Incubator and Harrity’s other initiatives to drive diversity in the IP legal field, visit harrity.com/diversity.

 

By Dylan Jackson

Why a Brief Response is the Best Response to an Office Action

By Rebecca Bachner, Associate

The Federal Circuit recently issued a decision that reminds us of the importance of always remembering prosecution history estoppel when presenting arguments in responses to the USPTO.  Specifically, in Amgen Inc v. Coherus Biosciences Inc., 2018-1993 (Fed. Cir. Jul. 29, 2019)) (“Amgen”), the Federal Circuit highlights how prosecution history estoppel can bar a patent owner from succeeding on its infringement claim under the doctrine of equivalents.

At issue was Amgen’s U.S. Patent No. 8,273,707 which was being asserted against Coherus for infringement.  During prosecution, the USPTO rejected Amgen’s claims as obvious in view of U.S. Patent No. 5,231,178 (“Holtz”).  In response, Amgen presented multiple different arguments.  First, Amgen argued that “the pending claims recite a particular combination of salts. No combinations of salts taught nor suggested in the Holtz et al. patent, nor [are] the particular combinations of salts recited in the pending claims taught nor suggested in this reference.” See Fed. Cir at pgs. 4-5.  Amgen further included a Declaration from the inventor of the ‘707 patent.  “The Declaration did not discuss any salt pairs other than sulfate/citrate, sulfate/acetate, and acetate/citrate—the only claimed pairs in the ’707 patent.”  See Fed. Cir at pg. 5.  The Patent Office issued another rejection and, in a final response, Amgen reiterated that Holtz did not disclose a combination of salts nor did Holtz disclose enhancing the dynamic capacity of an HIC column.  The Amgen patent issued after these arguments were filed.

Amgen filed suit against Coherus alleging infringement of the ‘707 patent under the doctrine of equivalents.  Coherus moved to dismiss Amgen’s complaint under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) stating that Amgen argued that Holtz did not disclose “one of the particular, recited combinations of salts.”  See Fed. Cir at pg. 7.  A magistrate judge issued a report that recommended that Coherus’ motion be granted due to prosecution history estoppel.  The report stated that Amgen “clearly and unmistakably—and indeed, repeatedly—indicated to competitors that it surrendered processes using combinations of salts different from the ‘particular combinations of salts recited in the . . . claims[.]’”  See id.  Therefore, the report found that “prosecution history estoppel bars Amgen from now attempting to reassert surrendered ground involving other combinations of salts.” See id.  The District Court adopted the magistrate judge’s recommendation and granted Coherus’ motion to dismiss.

At the appeal, the Federal Circuit agreed with the lower court’s dismissal.   The Court looked at the prosecution history and noted that “Amgen distinguished Holtz on the basis that Holtz did not teach or suggest the “particular combinations of salts” recited in Amgen’s claims.”   See Fed. Cir at pg. 9.  The Court further noted that “Amgen emphasized “particular” and referred to its particular salts three times in the span of two pages.”  See id.  As to Amgen’s argument that it distinguished from Holtz on the basis of increasing dynamic capacity, the Court states that “while Amgen did assert multiple reasons for why Holtz is distinguishable, our precedent instructs that estoppel can attach to each argument.”  See Fed. Cir at pg. 11.  Importantly, the Court stated that “[t]here is no requirement that argument-based estoppel apply only to arguments made in the most recent submission before allowance.”  See id.

This case is a strong reminder that everything written during prosecution can be used against the patent owner in later litigation.  The fact that “this particular combination” was a non-convincing argument, but still was used against Amgen with doctrine of equivalents shows how careful patent practitioners must be in drafting responses to the USPTO.  Each argument written down is part of the record that can be used against the ultimate patent.  As such, a high emphasis must be placed on having successful interviews with the Examiner.  Examiner interviews should be used at every stage of prosecution.  The Examiner interview is an invaluable way to receive feedback from the Examiner without adding to the written record.  Often, an agreement on claim language can be reached during the Examiner interview.  Based on the agreement, a response can be drafted in a way that minimizes the written record.  As such, Examiner interviews not only help with efficiency but are also a crucial part of obtaining high quality patents.

Improving Speed and Quality Using Automation for Patent Application Drafting

Our own Shawn Lillemo writes about how the right automation tools can provide application drafters with extra time that can be spent fleshing out additional details of the invention, exploring alternative embodiments, and telling a good story about how the invention solves a technical problem.  Read more on IPWatchdog.com.

Watch Shawn’s IPO Presentation on Patent Drafting Automation below!

Peter Glaser Team

How the Wrong Applicant Entity Status Can Doom Your Patent

By Peter Glaser, Associate

The Leahy-Smith America Invents Act, more commonly referred to as AIA, provided the USPTO with fee-setting authority to implement micro-entity status in addition to the previously implemented small-entity status. Both small-entity status and micro-entity status designations reduce fees for some patent filers. In general, small entities are entitled to a 50% reduction in fees and micro entities are entitled to a 75% reduction in fees. For example, the basic Utility filing fee for regular entities, sometimes termed ‘large entities’ is $300.00. In contrast the same filing fees for small entities and micro entities are $150.00 and $75.00, respectively.

The USPTO sets a set of requirements for patent filers to claim small entity status or micro entity status. In short, a small entity may qualify based on organization type (e.g., an entity that is a non-profit organization or that has fewer than 500 employees) and assignee status (e.g., an entity that has not assigned, licensed, or conveyed an interest in the invention to a non-small entity). For micro entities, the USPTO qualifications include each inventor not having been named inventor on more than 4 prior patent applications or have a gross income greater than 3 times the US median household income.

Generally, entity status is a matter of self-certification. For example, a patent attorney may file an assertion of small entity status or micro entity status for an inventor or other entity. However, the entity status must be updated if there is a change. For example, if an inventor files a patent application and qualifies as a small entity at the time of filing, but later assigns the invention to a large entity, a notification of loss of entitlement should be filed and regular fees paid thereafter.

The USPTO provides a good faith error safe harbor, but remedies are not provided for fraudulent or other non-good faith errors. A common way that entity status may change is as a result of a change in size of the patentee. In such a case, the Federal Circuit has held that when small entity status has been established in error and small entity fees have been paid in error, a patent holder can correct a good faith mistake (DH Technology, Inc. v. Synergystex International). Notably, the Federal Circuit indicated that the patent does not lapse as a result of an erroneous payment of fess and become unenforceable.

Another situation where entity status may be in question is when a patent license agreement is entered that could result in an applicant no longer being entitled to small entity status. In Outside The Box Innovations L.L.C. v. Travel Caddy, Inc, a lower court determined that an agreement between a patentee (that was a small entity) and a distributor (that was not a small entity) included a patent license clause that stripped Travel Caddy of small entity status with regard to the patent at issue. Here, the per curiam panel of the Federal Circuit found that it was reasonable for those involved in the patent prosecution to have believed that the agreement did not includes a patent license clause within the meaning of 37 CFR Section 1.27(a)(2). In a dissent, Judge Newman provided instructive guidance that an incorrect filing of small entity status should not be per se material to patentability.

Nevertheless, out of an abundance of caution, patent prosecutors and applicants can take some of the following steps to ensure an accurate assertion of entity status.

  1. Include questions regarding entity status in an initial invention disclosure interview questionnaire that is provided to inventors and/or applicants. Questions may include questions relating to company size, patent assignment status or licensing status, inventor household income, and the number of patents on which each inventor has been named.
  2. Following up with applicants and inventors regularly to determine whether answers to the above questions have changed.
  3. Maintaining comprehensive records of licensing agreements, joint inventorship agreements, research sponsorship agreements, and the like, and associating these records with patent family numbers.
  4. Performing a final check at issuance and at each maintenance fee payment date as to whether there has been any change to entity status. If a change has occurred, file a notification to indicate the status change.

Flexibility for Lawyers, Clients Helps Harrity & Harrity Stay Competitive

Law.com (September 10, 2019) “We allow our attorneys to work where they want, when they want, and how much they want,” managing partner John Harrity says.

Firm Name: Harrity & Harrity, LLP
Firm Leader: John Harrity, Managing Partner
Head Count: 30 attorneys, 20 professionals
Location: Fairfax, Virginia
Practice Area: Intellectual Property
Governance structure and compensation model: Management by a three-person management committee, compensation is a pay for performance model
Do you offer alternative fee arrangements? Yes

**The following answers were provided by Harrity and edited lightly for style.**

What do you view as the two biggest opportunities for your firm, and what are the two biggest threats?

Our biggest opportunity stems from the fact that we are consistently able to provide high-quality, uniform patent work in a timely and efficient manner. Other firms, especially those that are using the traditional law firm model, are struggling to compete in today’s competitive, price-conscious patent environment. While some firms think that it is impossible to provide outstanding customer service in today’s environment, we are thriving. Our biggest threat is the difficulty we have attracting superstar attorneys to join our firm. This has long been one of our challenges. Big Law firms offer high starting salaries to attorneys who have very little experience. It can be difficult for us to compete when our model is pay for performance.

Some other opportunities for our firm are related to our remote staffing model. We don’t need every attorney at the firm to operate from our central office location, so we benefit from a pool of candidates that many law firms won’t consider because the candidate is interested in working remotely, or isn’t in the geographic footprint of other firms. We also see opportunity in the price pressure that is impacting the practice of patent law—while the big law firms struggle to find profitability in this area while bowing to the price pressures mandated by the large corporations that are setting the pricing standard for patent applications, we leverage technology and process improvements to ensure efficiency without sacrificing quality or our ability to make a profit.

The legal market is so competitive now—what trends do you see, and has anything, including alternative service providers, altered your approach? Is your chief competition other mid-market firms, or is your firm competing against big firms for the same work?

We go head to head with law firms of every size. Although we don’t directly compete with alternative service providers, I would still consider them to be competition. In the patent field, we have seen pricing for patent application drafting and prosecution come down, and we don’t expect it to go back up. Law firms tend to think that Patent 300TM companies will come to understand that higher prices are required to be able to provide outstanding customer service, including outstanding quality. This just simply isn’t the case. We have been focusing on efficiencies for more than six years. When I say efficiencies, I’m talking about leaning out our process steps and creating automation tools. Being able to provide outstanding customer service while charging less for patent services is not only doable for us in today’s patent field, but we are also simultaneously able to pay our attorneys top dollar.

There is much debate around how law firms can foster the next generation of legal talent. What advantages and disadvantages do midsize firms have in attracting and retaining young lawyers, particularly millennials?

I think we have a huge advantage over the big firms with respect to attracting and retaining young lawyers, including millennials. One thing you hear about with respect to millennials is that they want freedom. So, we give it to them. We allow our attorneys to work where they want, when they want, and how much they want. This freedom is an instrumental reason why we attract such a large group of candidates for open attorney positions. In addition to this freedom, we have a pay for performance model, which allows hardworking young professionals to make substantially more than their peers at the big law firms.

Does your firm employ any nonlawyer professionals in high-level positions (e.g. COO, business development officer, chief strategy officer, etc.)? If so, why is it advantageous to have a nonlawyer in that role? If not, have you considered hiring any?

An integral (nonlawyer) member of our firm is Rocky Berndsen, who leads Harrity Patent Analytics. He oversees an analytical team using cutting-edge capabilities to analyze patent data and extract insights for clients to use when making strategic decisions regarding patent portfolios. The team recently published its inaugural Patent 300TM Report, which ranks and analyzes the top 300 companies, organizations, and universities in the patent field.

What would you say is the most innovative thing your firm has done recently, whether it be technology advancements, internal operations, how you work with clients, etc.?

In September, we introduced our Minority Firm Incubator program, established to help train, cultivate, and launch minority-owned patent law firms. The program is an integral and innovative part of our ongoing initiative to advance attorneys who will contribute to the diversity of the patent field. Our firm will select two candidates from a pool of skilled applicants, and begin training them through an exhaustive four-year program that will not only prepare them to draft and prosecute patent applications, but also prepare them to successfully run their minority-owned patent firm as a business. In addition, what makes this a truly once-in-a-lifetime opportunity is that these selected attorneys will develop, during their time at our firm, relationships with Patent 300TM companies that are part of our program. Ultimately, the selected attorneys will learn how to successfully run their law firms abiding by Harrity & Harrity’s proven best practices, then formally launch their firms assisted by the already established corporate relationships.

Does your firm have a succession plan in place?  If so, what challenges do you face in trying to execute that plan? If you don’t currently have a plan, is it an issue your firm is thinking about?

As a 20-year-old firm, our leadership is far from retirement age, but that has not stopped us from putting succession framework into place. We have established training programs that will help our associates develop the leadership and management skills they need to ascend the partner ranks. We have also engaged outside resources to make sure we’re doing the things we need to do to prepare for the day—many years down the road, we hope—when the firm’s leadership will transition to a new guard. We are prepared for that, and see no imminent challenges to implementing our succession plan.

About Harrity & Harrity, LLP

Harrity & Harrity is a patent preparation and prosecution firm specializing in the electrical and mechanical technology areas and is considered a Go-To Firm for the Patent 300™. Our clients have come to trust in our high-quality work, experienced people, industry leading innovation, and outstanding service. For more information, visit harrityllp.com.

 

Gene Quinn – Clause 8 – Episode 13

On the Clause 8 Podcast, our own Eli Mazour talked to Gene Quinn about starting and running IPWatchdog.com – the most influential IP-focused website in America.  They also talked about the IP policy landscape in Washington, how to effectively impact the policy making process, and various patent issues.  #IntellectualProperty #Patents #Podcast