Earlier this week, we discussed L.A.-based patent attorney Andrew Schroeder. For those who missed out on the first go-around, Schroeder penned a couple of blistering assaults on the quality of the USPTO’s work that were brought to the attention of University of Missouri Law Professor Dennis Crouch, who posted them on Patently-O.
But the story does not end there. Yesterday, I received an email from Andrew Schroeder pointing me to his blog post responding to Crouch (and, to a lesser extent, me). I found Schroeder’s original work to be professionally over the line — and at times a little offensive — but also very funny, so I was excited to see what the maestro of meltdown letters would say to his critics.
He did not disappoint…
Schroeder does only two things: secure patents for water sprinklers and mete out snarky whoop-ass. And he’s fresh out of water sprinkler patents.
Schroeder begins by anointing Crouch as “Dickhead of the Year 2013.” Since Schroeder takes a jab at me later in the article — and I read ATL commenters — let me just say it was an honor to be nominated.
Schroeder explains Crouch’s award-winning efforts:
Why do I think Dennis Crouch is a dickhead? Well, for starters, this guy apparently went on to the USPTO website around Thursday night/early Friday morning trolling around for Office Action responses to the USPTO. Funny thing is that I had no idea that this was even possible. And if you are a patent attorney reading this, chances are likely you didn’t know either (come on… be honest)….
One of the things I find fascinating about this whole ordeal is the fact that many of the articles written since Patentlyo’s blog post all assume that this was some sort of “PUBLIC” rant or tirade. Everyone assumes that this was some sort of “Open Letter” to the USPTO that I wrote to shame this particular Examiner (in fact, this was just between the Examiner, his Senior Examiner and me… and no one else). In fact, this was a confidential letter and anyone who tells you anything to the contrary is full of shit, I don’t give a fuck what they tell you.
First, I’m sure Crouch was tipped to the existence of the Office Action Response, perhaps by someone at the USPTO — you know, the folks that got mocked and now have every incentive to retaliate by making sure these embarrassing letters are brought to everyone’s attention.
Second, Schroeder’s indignation that Crouch published these “confidential” letters “between the Examiner, his Senior Examiner and me” is surprising because everything (other than copyrighted third-party material) involved in a patent application is public record as soon as the application publishes (hat tip to ATL’s patent law advisor for confirming this). And that makes sense if you remember that the point of the patent process is to publicize to potential infringers that a product is patented.
This is also why I didn’t reach out to Schroeder for comment, because unlike an anonymous tip, these were public documents that speak — hilariously — for themselves.
But this is kind of a Chewbacca defense. The problem isn’t whether or not the letters were publicly available (they were), but that the letters were written in the first place. Schroeder goes to great lengths to explain how much of a mess the USPTO site is — and he’s right — but that doesn’t make it any less of a hilarious meltdown when he wrote to the patent examiner, “Are you drunk? No, seriously… are you drinking scotch and whiskey with a side of crack cocaine while you ‘examine’ patent applications?” Rather than own that this response was probably inappropriate, Schroeder devotes a whole mess of digital ink to the idea that Crouch had to do something more nefarious than LOOK AT THE APPLICATION, and that makes Crouch the bad guy:
I mean, doesn’t this cocksucker Dennis Crouch have anything else better to do on Thursday night… like… I don’t know… Fucking Mrs. Crouch? (Judging by the picture… I don’t blame ya buddy!) Grading final exams? Playing with his ham radio?
Now, I guarantee you there will be tons of patent attorneys howling at me saying that I’m a God Damn fool for not knowing how to access other people’s files on the EBC. They will predictably use that as evidence that I don’t know what I’m doing, blah, blah, blah. But you know what? IT NEVER EVEN OCCURRED TO ME THAT I SHOULD GO LOOKING THROUGH OTHER PEOPLE’S FILE WRAPPERS! WHY WOULD I WANT TO LOOK THROUGH OTHER PEOPLES OFFICE ACTION RESPONSES? I guess I’m just eccentric because I kinda like to mind my own God Damn business. I guess that I’m the moron because I don’t have this compulsive desire to snoop through other people’s files.
Indeed, that it makes Crouch some kind of criminal:
The more I think about it, the more likely it is that Dennis Crouch may have broken a whole bunch of laws. When it comes to cyber crimes there are state laws (one for where he lives, possibly where I live, and that of Alexandria, Virginia (USPTO).
And then of course there are Federal laws as well such as the CFAA (Computer Fraud & Abuse Act) which makes it a felony to hack and steal documents similar to what Dennis mother fucking menace may have done.
Ha! Dennis MF Menace! I repeat, I find Schroeder to have several clever lines.
The original artwork Schroeder has placed on these posts is top-notch. It basically takes the voice that thrilled you in the Office Action Responses and introduces a visual dimension that elevates his rant to the sublime. Observe:
Schroeder also blames the examiners for being petty bureaucrats, which might be true, but still misses the point that there’s a big leap between grumbling about the process or penning an article calling for reform and telling the examiner that “a Special Olympics athlete of ordinary skill with the MPEP” would do the job better.
But my favorite part of Schroeder’s response is the part that targets ATL:
Right about this point in the rant, many people would be thinking that if I’m not making a boatload of cash, then I must be a horrible patent attorney, and perhaps I should find a new gig. To that, I would say that the quality and effectiveness of a patent attorney is relative. Do I suck? I’m sure there are patent attorneys who would say “Hell yes!”, especially those retards at Abovethelaw.com. I don’t think so, but that’s my opinion.
First, I actually wouldn’t opine on Schroeder’s quality as a patent attorney. There’s no reason to question his substantive work, only his decorum one day last month when he lost his cool. But what I loved about this part, coming at the end of his response, was that after I took Schroeder to task for his over-reliance on the “retard” motif, he assiduously avoided the term throughout the post until he mentioned Above the Law. That’s clever and appreciated.
And as for the Dickhead of the Year award, all I can do is refocus and try to win next year.
PatentlyO, Response To Dennis Crouch, Andrew Schroeder [LA Multimedia BLog]
Dennis Crouch, Guilty of Cybercrime? [LA Multimedia BLog]