Patents

About a month ago, I read an article about a new position available for experienced attorneys at a certain Biglaw firm. The firm? Kilpatrick Townsend. The position? Something called a “department attorney.”

Before we get into what that is, and some of the implications for Biglaw if this new kind of position takes hold, let’s take a look at the listing of open positions on Kilpatrick’s website. Currently, the firm is advertising for nine associate positions, six of which are in the patent area (including two for patent “prosection” (sic) associates, who hopefully will be better at including all the letters in a word than the firm’s recruiting staff).

Want to be a department attorney? Well, for you there are ten open positions. The breakdown? Eight in trademarks, two in patent prosecution. The common denominator of those disciplines? Shrinking margins for Biglaw, in the face of competition from IP boutiques specializing in volume work, and bulked-up in-house departments doing more on their own. In light of those shrinking margins, the firm’s desire to hire more department attorneys than full-bore associates is understandable. At least they are hiring….

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‘Dear Sir or Madam, you are infringing on my patent, now pay up!’

I think fundamentally the term ‘patent troll’ gets thrown at anybody who you don’t like who is a plaintiff in a patent case.

Nathan Myhrvold — former CTO of Microsoft, current CEO of Intellectual Ventures Management, and co-author of Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking (affiliate link), a six-volume, 2,438-page cookbook — speaking on Capitol Hill yesterday about patent reform. Myhrvold’s critics claim that Intellectual Ventures Management is one of the biggest patent trolls around.

* Congrats to @FenwickWest on landing the big Twitter IPO! #yaylegalfees [American Lawyer]

* The Deal Professor, Steven Davidoff, surveys the legal landscape around the Twitter filing, focusing on the #JOBSAct. [DealBook / New York Times]

* Jamie McCourt, a former family law attorney, strikes out in trying to set aside her divorce settlement with Frank McCourt, former owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers. She’s stuck with $131 million and several luxury homes. #richpeopleproblems [National Law Journal (sub. req.)]

* An inquest reveals that a Hogan Lovells partner who took his own life had warned a colleague that he was going to kill himself the day before his death. [Daily Mail via ABA Journal]

* Good news for the news business: the Senate Judiciary Committee approves a federal media-shield bill. [Washington Wire / Wall Street Journal]

* Nathan Myhrvold, the CEO of a patent holding company, warns that anti-patent-troll sentiment could have unforeseen consequences. [Corporate Counsel]

* Praise in the WSJ for Unprecedented: The Constitutional Challenge to Obamacare (affiliate link), the new book by Professor Josh Blackman (who recently wrote a guest post for us on Supreme Court beauty contests). [Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)]

* Congrats to George Mason Law on its two high-profile hires: D.C. Circuit Judge Douglas Ginsburg and Covington antitrust partner Damien Geradin. [The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times]

* If you’re in New York this weekend, go see Arguendo. Or buy tickets for the 7 p.m. performance on September 22, when I’ll be doing a talkback with artistic director John Collins after the show. Enter the discount code “ABOVE” for $35 tickets (a special rate for ATL readers). [Public Theater]

* The hits keep on coming for Curt Schilling. Now the SEC has woken up and decided to probe the $75 million he secured from the state of Rhode Island (already the subject of another suit). Maybe he can fake another bloody sock to generate some sympathy. [Bloomberg]

* Apple sold a “Season Pass” to Breaking Bad Season 5 and then refused to honor the second half of the season to its subscribers, prompting an Ohio doctor to file suit for $20, with hopes of building a class action. Look, Apple needed that money; Tim Cook is desperate these days. [Deadline: Hollywood]

* Speaking of Apple, the Federal Circuit looks like it’s going to give Apple another crack at its claim that Google ripped off the iPhone patents, citing “significant” errors on the part of the last judge to rule on the dispute: Richard Posner. You come at the king, you best not miss. [Wall Street Journal]

* And last, but definitely not least, Apple’s new fingerprint ID will be the death of the Fifth Amendment. Discuss. [Wired]

* A film chock-full of unsanctioned footage and insulting knocks on Disney has been picked up for distribution. This is your official warning that it’s time to prepare the beauty pageant pitch for the Disney execs. [Grantland]

* Elie smash, Charlotte Law School. [NPR Charlotte]

* The International Association of Young Lawyers conference will feature a speed dating session (on page 6). Really hard-hitting program there. [International Association of Young Lawyers]

* Congratulations to the 49 firms honored for meeting all of WILEF’s criteria for Gold Standard certification at today’s awards gala! [Women in Law Empowerment Forum]

Representing patent trolls: harder than it looks?

Has the “mojo hand” lost its mojo?

In 2008, a paralegal at Weil Gotshal alleged in a lawsuit that Matthew Powers, co-chair of litigation at Weil at the time, ruled over his domain with the “pimp hand” and the “mojo hand.” The “pimp hand” was used to intimidate and coerce, while the “mojo hand” was used to stroke and cajole.

In 2011, Powers, one of the nation’s leading intellectual-property litigators, left Weil to start his own firm, Tensegrity Law Group. In leaving Biglaw, he also left behind a stable of blue-chip clients, focusing instead on representing plaintiffs on a contingency basis.

Two years into his new venture, some observers are wondering whether Matt Powers has lost his powers….

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* PepsiCo can no longer label its Naked juices as “natural” because the only place you can find more unnatural substances in something naked is in a Vivid Video production. [New York Daily News]

* The New Yorker shines a light on the world of civil asset forfeiture. In honor of Shark Week, the article should have spent a lot more time on the United States v. Approximately 64,695 Pounds of Shark Fins case. [The New Yorker]

* Thomas J. Kim, the Chief Counsel and Associate Director of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Division of Corporation Finance since 2007, is going to be a partner at Sidley Austin. Don’t let the revolving door hit you on the way out! [Bloomberg Businessweek]

* Whatever happened to Shinyung Oh, author of the incendiary Paul Hastings departure memo? An update. [Capricious Bubbles]

* 10 reasons lawyers say the prosecutors botched the George Zimmerman trial. [AlterNet]

* As we predicted, the four patent litigation partners leaving Finnegan, as well as six other IP lawyers, are joining Winston & Strawn. [Winston & Strawn]

* How do you react when colleagues endorse you on LinkedIn for skills you don’t practice? Take a look…

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* “Our graduates have a history of going to small firms, DAs and public defenders’ offices. We don’t have the employment swings that big law schools have because their graduates are focused on more elite firms,” says the dean of law school that costs $185,214 to attend. Certainly all of those students at the District Attorney’s office are making enough bank to pay that off. [Daily Report]

* Looking to avoid jury duty? Practice some F-Bombs. [Lowering the Bar]

* Copyright carries with it a substantial weakness — most publishers would rather reprint public domain works than deal with authors. [The Atlantic]

* 75 percent of IP counsel are either litigating with patent trolls or expect to in the next 12 months. The other 25 percent just represent really sh**ty products. [Consero]

* A former attorney is aiming to crowdfund her invention, a 3-in-1 kitchen tool. [Gambas and Grits]

* Several State Attorneys General want to make it easier to go after bloggers because narrowly tailored laws are for suckers. [Popehat]

* A tipster sent us this from Facebook. This is the best tattoo of Lady Justice ever. Picture after the jump…

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* For everyone at the midway point of a bar exam: Here… [Dinmoney]

* Naked selfies: Not just for Carlos Danger anymore. A female police officer uses her workday to post naked pictures of herself. [Legal Juice]

* Speaking of NYC politics and placing Weiners where they don’t belong, Professor Lawrence Cunningham argues that Eliot Spitzer would be a horrible Comptroller based on his record as New York Attorney General. Cunningham then lists every reason Eliot Spitzer was an awesome Attorney General. [Concurring Opinions]

* An appeals court has upheld the ruling that killed Mayor Bloomberg’s large sugary soda ban. Drink up, fatasses! It’s your right as an American. In the meantime, check out this argument over whether the decision contains a curious paradox [PrawfsBlawg]

* The Sixth Circuit affirmed an earlier decision dismissing a suit brought by Cooley grads. But they did not repeat the classic, “an ordinary prudent person would not have relied on [Cooley's] statistics to decide to spend $100,000 or more.” [ABA Journal]

* After winning Survivor, Cochran has decided to turn his law degree into the most expensive TV screenwriting degree ever. He’ll be penning a sitcom this Fall. [St. Louis Today]

* Susan Westerberg Prager, the incoming dean of Southwestern Law School, is the first female dean of a law school… again. [Chronicle of Higher Education]

* One doctor. Four different signatures “under penalty of perjury.” I think we’re underestimating the evil quadruplet theory. [New York Personal Injury Attorney Blog]

* As someone without kids, I find this fascinating. Popehat has a poll asking readers their thoughts on monitoring the electronic communication of their middle schoolers. As a parent, are you more Edward Snowden or J. Edgar Hoover? [Popehat]

On the “Our Professionals” section of its website, Finnegan Henderson boasts that it has “375 lawyers focused on IP.” It may be time to revise that downward: “371 lawyers focused on IP.”

Last night, the high-powered, intellectual-property-focused firm announced four notable partner departures. The Finnegan partners in question practice in the generally hot area of IP litigation (although we’ve heard anecdotal reports of cooling, including stealth layoffs of IP litigators — see here and here).

Who are the departing Finnegan partners, and where are they going?

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One technique in the world of pharma that has started appearing here on Techdirt is “evergreening” — making small changes to a drug, often about to come off patent, in order to gain a new patent that extends its manufacturer’s control over it. The advantages for pharma companies are evident, but what about the public? What economic impact does evergreening have? 

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