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(Webinar Slides) How to Start and Grow an IP Practice

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(Webinar Slides) How to Start and Grow an IP Practice

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With the rise of entrepreneurship, intellectual property is booming. This creates a wealth of opportunities for attorneys to start or grow their IP practice. But, like with any area of law, IP requires specialized knowledge to succeed and comply with best practices. Technology is an essential element to minimizing risk in any practice, but particularly, in the deadline-driven world of IP.

With the rise of entrepreneurship, intellectual property is booming. This creates a wealth of opportunities for attorneys to start or grow their IP practice. But, like with any area of law, IP requires specialized knowledge to succeed and comply with best practices. Technology is an essential element to minimizing risk in any practice, but particularly, in the deadline-driven world of IP.

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(Webinar Slides) How to Start and Grow an IP Practice

  1. 1. How to Start and Grow an IP Practice #IPLaw
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  5. 5. About our presenter Nehal Madhani ‣ Founder & CEO of Alt Legal ‣ Former Kirkland & Ellis Attorney ‣ Python/Django Programmer ‣ CodeX Fellow, Stanford Law School ‣ JD, University of Pennsylvania 5
  6. 6. Intro to IP 6
  7. 7. Demand for IP Legal Services is Growing • IP is a critical business asset that every business should protect. • Companies are being bought and sold just for their IP portfolios. • Nearly $2.7 billion is spent on IP litigation legal fees every year. • Surge in the number of small businesses and startups is driving an increase in the number of IP filings. 7
  8. 8. 8 Trademark applications filed with the USPTO rose nearly 10% in 2015. In 2016, the USPTO has already received 13% more applications than last year. This is in part driven by the jump in the national rate of new entrepreneurs.
  9. 9. Trademarks Overview • Scope: Protects word, phrase, symbol and/or design that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods or services or one party from those of others. • Expiration: None as long as use and filing requirements are satisfied. • USPTO attorney requirements: Must be an attorney in good standing in at least one US jurisdiction to prosecute trademark filings. 9
  10. 10. Patents Overview • Scope: Protects machines, manufactured articles, industrial processes, and chemical compositions. • Expiration: 14 years for design patents; 20 years for utility and plant patents. • USPTO attorney requirements: Must be admitted to patent bar to prosecute patents. A scientific or technical training is a prerequisite for the patent bar. 10
  11. 11. Copyright Overview • Scope: Protects works of authorship that have been tangibly expressed in a physical form (e.g. songs, books, movies, and works of art). • Expiration: Varies depending on the type of work and authorship (e.g. life of the author + 70 years or if it’s work for hire or anonymous, it’s shorter of 95 years from publication or 120 years from creation). • Attorney requirements: Must be an attorney in good standing in at least one US jurisdiction to prosecute copyright filings. 11
  12. 12. Poll Slide #1 Q: Do you currently practice IP, and if so, in what areas? A1: I do not currently practice IP. A2: I currently practice trademark law. A3: I currently practice patent law. A4: I currently practice some combination of trademark and patent law. 12
  13. 13. USPTO Introduces Regional Offices 13
  14. 14. Setting Up and Growing an IP Practice 14
  15. 15. Identifying the Scope of Your Practice 15 Prosecution Filings Trademarks Copyrights Patents License Agreements Litigation Administrative Proceedings Trademark Trial and Appeal Board Patent Trial and Appeal Board Federal Court
  16. 16. Steps in Prosecuting IP Filings 16 Protecting: Maintain IP rights through renewals and active monitoring Prosecuting: Monitor and update IP filing and deadlines Filing: File documents and forms with government IP office Assembly: Assess filing and prepare documents and government forms Intake: Gather client information and documents re IP rights
  17. 17. Find Your Niche 17 • Like any practice, you should identify your niche within IP after determining the scope of your work in this field. • You can more effectively focus your limited resources. • You can quickly build expertise. • You can rapidly develop a client base and network.
  18. 18. How to Find a Niche 18 • Consider your interests and passions • Identify trends in your current client base and/or network • Assess your professional and personal strengths and weaknesses • Explore the competitive landscape
  19. 19. A Strong IP Network is Critical 19 • IP law is a complex, global practice. • The right network allows you to serve clients as a “full-service IP firm.” • You can grow your practice through referrals
  20. 20. Building Your IP Network 20 • Social media (check out our list of Twitter influencers here) • Read blogs and write your own. Popular ones include Likelihood of Confusion, TTABlog, Everything Trademarks, and IP Watchdog • Become a member of the over 50 state and local IP bar associations • Join trade organizations like International Trademark Association (INTA), American Intellectual Property Law Association (AIPLA), American Bar Association - Intellectual Property Law (ABA-IPL), Copyright Society of the USA (CSUSA)
  21. 21. Poll Slide #2 Q: What networking tool do you find to be the most effective? A1: Social Media A2: In-person Events and Conferences A3: Blogging A4: Other 21
  22. 22. Case Studies of Successful IP Practices 22 • Background: Meet Rina. Rina is a former Big Law corporate attorney who set up her own legal practice a few years ago. She focuses largely on emerging companies and securities law. • IP work: Over the last couple years, her emerging companies clients have become mature companies and have sought trademark protection. • Results: Rina has prosecuted over 60 trademarks for her clients and netted nearly $50,000 in legal fees ($800/trademark). • Advice: Attend CLEs and IP conferences to learn the fundamentals and leverage close relationships with experienced IP lawyers to help you avoid mistakes.
  23. 23. Other Ways to Grow Your IP Practice 23 • Common strategies: Client networking, referrals from attorneys and clients, online content, and social media. • Unique strategies for IP law: (1) Filing IP isn’t once and done. This gives rise to new engagement opportunities with clients and prospective clients. (2) Use docketing software to alert you of new engagement points with clients and to maintain continuous contact. (3) Engage pro se applicants in accordance with applicable rules. Nearly 1/3 of filings are filed by pro se applicants, and many become subject to an oppositional proceeding or office action.
  24. 24. Ethical Obligations and Pitfalls 24
  25. 25. Key Rules 25 • Competence: “Competent representation requires the legal, scientific, and technical knowledge, skill, thoroughness and preparation reasonably necessary for the representation.” 37 C.F.R. § 11.101. • Unauthorized practice of law: “A practitioner shall not practice law in a jurisdiction in violation of the regulation of the legal profession in that jurisdiction, or assist another in doing so.” 37 CFR § 11.505. • Candor towards tribunal: (a) Prohibitions against false statements/evidence; (b) disclosure of criminal behavior…and (d) disclosure of material facts to tribunal in ex parte proceedings. 37 CFR § 11.303.
  26. 26. Technological Competence 26 • Comment 8 on Rule 1.1 of the ABA’s Model Rules of Professional Conduct • “To maintain the requisite knowledge and skill, a lawyer should keep abreast of changes in the law and its practice, including the benefits and risks associated with relevant technology, engage in continuing study and education and comply with all continuing legal education requirements to which the lawyer is subject” • Adopted by 23 states
  27. 27. Administrative Error: Making Factual Assertions 27 • US trademark applications must be signed by a person that can legally bind the applicant or has first hand knowledge of the facts asserted in the application and authority to act on behalf of the applicant, or a US attorney authorized to practice before the USPTO. • Attorneys who execute trademark applications on behalf of clients may become a fact witness and disqualified from representing the applicant if the application or registration is disputed. • You should email the application to your client to execute (despite the inconvenience) through TEAS.
  28. 28. Administrative Error: Making Excessively Broad Assertions 28 • Medinol Ltd. v. Neuro Vasx Inc. (TTAB 2003). The mark "NeuroVasx" was granted for use in connection with "medical devices, namely, neurological stents and catheters." • A petitioner wanted the mark cancelled because it was not being used in connections with stents. Neuro Vasx attempted to amend their application to remove stents, which were included because of an oversight. • The court found fraud because Neuro Vasx knowingly made a false statement to the USPTO to obtain registration, which would not have been issued if the USPTO knew it was not being used for stents. • Fraud cannot be cured by the deletion of goods from the registrations.
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  30. 30. Missing Deadlines: In Re Tachner 30 • In re Tachner (USPTO D2012-30): The Office of Enrollment and Discipline brought an action against a solo patent attorney after he missed several filing deadlines for clients’ filings. • The attorney relied on an office manager and a manual docketing system. Through 2005, he docketed matters by recording dates in a notebook. After 2005, his office relied solely on a Word document that listed actions as single-line entries (no table and no calendar). • The attorney admitted to a pattern of neglect of management of his law firm, including reliance on an “unsound calendaring system for tracking deadlines.” • The attorney was suspended for five years for violating several provisions the USPTO Code of Professional Responsibility.
  31. 31. Missing Deadlines: The Medicines Co. V. Fish & Neave 31 • In The Medicines Co. v. Fish & Neave, Medicines Co. sued Fish & Neave for missing a patent term extension (“PTE”) application deadline that jeopardized about 4.5 years of market exclusivity ($2 billion in sales). • PTE applications allow applicants to extend the life of a patent for certain delays beyond the applicant’s control. Here, it was the time MDCO spent seeking FDA approval of their drug. Fish & Neave was to submit a PTE application within 60 days of the FDA approving the drug. • Ultimately, after a protracted, decade-long legal and legislative battle and nearly $20 million lobbying Congress, MDCO was able to reverse the docketing and patent filing errors and restore the exclusivity period.
  32. 32. Poll Slide #3 Q: What tool do you depend on most for tracking deadlines? A1: Calendar or Excel A2: Docketing software A3: Practice management software A4: I don’t have any deadlines to track. 32
  33. 33. Tools for IP Lawyers 33
  34. 34. Tools for IP Lawyers 34 • Malpractice Insurance • Docketing System • Practice Management • Client Intake
  35. 35. Malpractice Insurance 35 • IP malpractice insurance is a must if you are going to do any kind of IP filing (even trademarks). • Typically, it’s more expensive than other practice areas given the high stakes of IP and the liabilities associated with missed deadlines. • Explore discounts that may be available through trade organizations (e.g., National Association of Patent Practitioners). • Consider policy limits, scope of coverage, retroactive dates, and expiration dates in selecting a provider.
  36. 36. Docketing Software 36 • Timely filings for office actions, renewals, revivals, and objections are essential to protect your clients’ IP rights. • Complexity increases exponentially as you grow your IP practice. • Key factors in selecting an IP docketing system include: Scope of your practice (e.g., trademarks or patents, domestic or international, litigation or prosecution), security, ease of use, automation, calendaring support
  37. 37. Collecting IP Information Can be a Time-Consuming Process 37 Initial inquiry Assess IP needs Collect specific information Review client intake Follow-ups with client
  38. 38. Best Practices for IP Intake 38 • Present your client with questions that are easy to understand or not overly technical to solicit accurate and complete answers. • Leverage electronic forms to collect client information in the first instance to speed up the process for both you and your client. • Keep records of the information that your client provided to you.
  39. 39. Changes Proposed by the USPTO 39 • USPTO has proposed changes to the declaration of use portion of trademark application forms • By breaking apart the sections and requiring applicants and attorneys to agree to each section individually, there is increased accountability • Also means that attorneys must have actual knowledge of the statements they are consenting to. • The easiest way to ensure that they are accurately certifying these statements is by having a comprehensive intake process
  40. 40. Practice Management 40 • IP practice (like other practices involving government filings and processes) can be administrative at times. • Practice management software will help you manage your contacts, organize your matters and documents, and get paid faster. • Reflect on your workflow to identify any administrative bottlenecks by considering which elements are repetitive and don’t require any subjective assessments.
  41. 41. Evaluating Tech Vendors 41 • Identify the exact needs of your practice • Consider technologies that easily integrate with the platforms you use regularly • Ease of use – For technologies you will be using daily, this is a critical factor • Price point that works for your practice • Customer support and training
  42. 42. 10% off for attendees! Sign up at https://www.altlegal.com/mycase-web Then email info@altlegal.com And we’ll apply a 10% discount to your first three months 42
  43. 43. Nehal Madhani www.altlegal.com nehal@altlegal.com 646-665-7975 MyCase www.MyCase.com support@mycase.com 800-571-8062 Contact Us 43
  44. 44. Thank you 44

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