Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Checking In...

Sorry i haven't been posting much lately. I am insanely busy at work. Mad busy. November is going to be a long, hectic month, with lots of trips to California for hearings and mediation and depositions. I'm barely staying afloat, and keep waking up in the middle of the night worried I missed a deadline.

I have so much spinning around in my head that I want to blog about--including Herman Cain, the Occupy movement (which I am fascinated with), news from my sisters, a great motion hearing, a visit from my best friend, and reconnection with an old friend. But I'm too tired right now. It'll be coming, I promise. Hope all of you who are following and reading are doing wonderfully. I hate to complain about work since having a job like I do is a blessing during these times, but damn, it really infringes (see what I did there) on my fun diversions, like blogging. And reading blogs.

Oh, and my pictures arrived today from Gilt, three weeks early. At work. Which means I have to drive in tomorrow to get them home, and I didn't open the box yet and am dying to see them! (I'm not taking a 32x48 picture on the train. Just no.). Still waiting on my basement couch...come on, Pottery Barn!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, October 15, 2011

What Does An Official Patent Look Like?

You know you've always wondered! 

Well, I think it's cool, and I happen to have one at my house because I'm going to speak to some young women on Monday at my undergrad alma mater, and I'm going to discuss engineering and patent law, and show them what a real patent looks like. 

These generally only make an appearance at trial.  Hopefully I won't lose or spill something on this one between now and Tuesday, because if I do, my client might possibly kill me.  This is how the owner of the patent receives it from the United States Patent and Trademark Office.  We call it the "red ribbon" patent.  (You can download the patent itself for free from the PTO or Google Patent, which is what we use throughout the lawsuit, and is just the patent itself.  This one is official and fancy because it has the cover.)

Top right text:

Bottom right text:

It's bound like a book, and the patent is on the inside.  I'm not going to post the patent, because it is a bunch of technical diagrams and columns and columns of text that are very boring to most people.

But doesn't the official patent look super cool?

Friday, October 14, 2011

Ugh, Associates Bother Me And So Does The America Invents Act

I'm a total perfectionist.  It's a flaw.  You know how when they ask you in job interviews what your biggest flaw is, and you try to think of something that is actually a positive, but can be considered a flaw and you end up with "perfectionist" and expound upon that?  Well, flaw or not, I want everything with my name on it to be perfect.

I am crazy fucking busy right now.  The America Invents Act has thrown some chaos into the world of patent law from a plaintiff's persepctive.  We used to be able to file a case against multiple defendants on the same patent.  One case, two to five defendants, one or more patents.  No longer.  You now have to file separate cases against each defendant.  This really hurts the independent inventor who has to now pay filing fees and potentially pro hac vice fees in multiple cases.  (This can run into the thousands easy.)  What's funny is that the law as it was prior to the America Invents Act, prevented this anyway.  Plaintiffs did it because it was easier to deal with everyone at once in the same lawsuit when they were all accused of infringing the same patent.  Defendants did it because it was easier for them, too.  No one complained.  In the seven years I've been doing this, I've never had a defendant complain about being joined or file a motion for severance.  If they had filed a motion to sever, they would have won under the old law!  So, how about that?  Because even if you are a defendant, you benefit from being with others in the same lawsuit.  You can free ride if you want to, on the work of others.  You can join their motions; you can share technical experts on invalidity issues; you can cut attorneys fees on deposition time.  You get joint defense privilege to talk amongst yourselves without it being discoverable.  I mean, it really was an efficiency thing for all.  And now Judges across the country are going to have to construe the claims of the same patent at issue in other cases.  Maybe it will turn into a multidistrict litigation deal, maybe there will be consolidation, who knows? It's all new, and we'll find out.  And at the end of the day....I don't think it is going to be a good solution for anyone, and I think the Judges are going to be pissed off to see all of these cases sitting around on their docket, when in the past it would have been one single case.  So, at any rate, I've now got a lot more cases going on than usual, because we have to file separately against every single infringer, so there are that many more dates and whatnot to keep track of. 

I've got this associate who works very hard, graduated at the top of her class, and is capable of very good work.  I like her and think she is very smart.  However, I don't think she proofreads anything.  It's bizarre.  She sends me draft interrogatory responses with the defendants' name spelled wrong.  Multiple, multiple typos throughout.  People's names spelled wrong.  Numbering wrong.  Substantive facts just wrong.  I mean, stuff that she should know better, as she is 3-4 years in.  Everyone makes typos at times, but this is beyond.  It's a total rush job.  And I get it that she is busy, because I am busy, too.  But her rushing it over to me doesn't make my life any easier because I have to spend time correcting all of it.  I shouldn't have to correct a fucking spelling mistake on the defendant's name, right?  I shouldn't have to double check on substantive issues.  I'm supposed to be able to trust that she did it, and I don't think she is doing it.

So, she had previously planned to take today off, which is fine.  But we were trying to serve requests for admission, among several other documents, and for various reasons our local counsel in the jurisdiction needed to serve them.  I've been bothering her for weeks about getting a draft out, etc.  She finally schedules a meeting with all of us (and sent us the drafts before, to be fair to her) on Wednesday.  We had the meeting, she revised with all of our input, thought it was all good, sent to local counsel to serve, and obviously wasn't in today to deal with the aftermath.  So, of course there were a ton of stupid errors that I had to deal with, some substantive.  I spent about half the day going back and forth with local counsel about spelling, corrections, numbering, getting repeated signatures on declarations, and all this bullshit that I thought she had a handle on.

I'm really pissed off about it, and am going to talk to her on Tuesday.  She frankly should've had this all dealt with and finalized with local counsel before she left.  I don't care if she's busy; I'm busy, too.  We are all busy.  She just seems to have no concept that our name is on this, and there shouldn't be stupid typos, and there certainly shouldn't be huge substantive errors.  Nothing bothers me worse than seeing a dumb typo on a filed document.  At this point at my firm, she should be able to run a case on her own and be trusted, and she is nowhere close to that.  I now don't trust anything she does without review.  Yet, I know she is capable of doing good work and she is smart.  I can't figure it out.  Many other partners aren't as understanding as I am, so I think I am going to have a brief talk with her.  I mean, spend an extra hour and review the document before you start sending it to everyone, right?  But then again, I'm a crazy perfectionist.       

The Botox Experiment

On October 4, I did something I never thought I would do.  I got Botox.  Before you judge me, let me explain.

Because of an accident with a metal wagon handle when I was eight (my brother's fault, who also knocked out my front permanent teeth that same year, gotta love brothers), I have about an inch long vertical scar in the center of my forehead.  When it happened, I was bleeding a lot, and the babysitter put pressure on it, and my mom got home and looked at it and thought I would survive, so I never got any stitches.  Well, I should've really had stitches, in retrospect.  My mom can't even look at it now without breaking into tears about how she should've taken me to the ER immediately and dealt with it.  "Oh, I ruined your face, it's all my fault" and blah, blah.  However, I don't hold a grudge against her and have gotten used to it, and it is part of my face.  I can't even remember the time before I had this scar.   

As a result of the scar, I've always worn bangs, in part to hide it, and in part because I have a kind of high forehead.  Thick bangs, thinner bangs, wispy bangs, sideswept bangs, etc.  At some point over the summer, I decided I was tired of bangs, and the scar isn't all that noticeable anymore, and my forehead isn't really that high, and damn, I want to LIVE WITHOUT BANGS.  So, I started to grow them out.  I'm pleased to report that the bangs have passed the awkward stage where I just looked like I needed to trim them up, and are now almost to my chin.  But, upon getting close to passing the awkward stage I really took notice of something terrible about my forehead -- horizontal wrinkles.

I've noticed them before.  I've used Dr. Brandt, La Mer, L'Oreal Collagen filler, etc., to no avail.  But, it wasn't a huge concern to me because the bangs covered them up.  Once the bangs were long enough that I could play around, my forehead was exposed!  It looked terrible!  I seriously said "OH MY GOD!"  I couldn't let my poor forehead look like that.  I don't have any "between the eyebrows" vertical wrinkles, and barely any crows feet unless I squint or smile really, really hard, but the horizontal wrinkles on my forehead are deep.  I'm expressive with my eyebrows and wrinkle my forehead when I think and talk and everything.  To be fair, I've done a lot of thinking over the past 37 years, so, hence, wrinkles!  The horror! 

So, I figured I would try Botox in my forehead.  What the hell, right?  Nearly all of my friends do it, so I might as well jump on the bandwagon.  I went to my dermatologist to have it done.  I was really worried about random side effects, and they all seemed to think I was nuts for asking.  (Really, though, you are injecting something into my body, and I would be the lucky person who gets the weird ass 1% side effect, right?)  So, we went over it all, and ultimately, I said go for it.  My doctor warned me that my wrinkles were so deep that Botox wouldn't give me a smooth forehead, so I might have to do a laser peel to improve it more, but still felt that I should try Botox first to see where we ended up.  Okay, fine.  Whatever.  My biggest concern was that I would end up with an immobile forehead and look like Nicole Kidman.

They price Botox based on three regions:  horizontal forehead, vertical forehead (between the eyebrows), and eyes.  We all decided I only needed the horizontal forehead, so it was $420.  Each region is about the same price, but you do get a slight discount if you need multiple regions.  This shit isn't cheap. 

The procedure is quick and easy.  The doctor used a marker to dot where he wanted to put the injections.  A nurse held an ice cube over the region, then the doctor injected.  Then the nurse wiped the marker off my forehead.  All in all, it took about five minutes, and felt like a quick pin prick.  I'm a wimp about pain, and it was not a big deal.

I felt the effects immediately.  Day one, my forehead felt really heavy, but I could still move my eyebrows.  I didn't get any headaches or any side effects or anything.  It was all fine, except I kept waiting for the results.  (My doctor said 3-4 days, but maximum results at around 2 weeks.)  The waiting is torture, because you spend the money, get stuff injected into you, and want to see it!  I'm not at two weeks yet, but already I see amazing results.  The wrinkles are still there (as my doctor told me), but they are so much better looking and so much finer and hard to see.  It's actually shocking how much they have improved.  My forehead feels slightly heavy if I lift my eyebrows, but nothing that feels weird or immobile.  This surprised me the most, to be honest.  I thought I wouldn't be able to move it at all, but I still can.  I'm not sure if this means I needed more Botox, but I do see great results, so I don't know what to think.  I'm going back to see him in a couple of weeks for my yearly mole check (fun, right?  Gotta do that when they find and remove precancerous moles, God I hate getting old), so I'll inquire.

At any rate, though, even though I'm going to have to do this every 3-6 months (apparently you can do it less frequently once you start doing it and your muscles get used to being more relaxed), I think it's worth it.  I'm not going to feel weird at all about not having bangs if I can keep this up, and I'm happy that my forehead isn't immobile.  So Botox, you get an A+ in my book.         

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Will Occupy Wall Street Turn Into Animal Farm?

George Orwell wrote a great book called Animal Farm in 1945. The basic plot of Animal Farm involves a group of animals on a farm who overthrow the farmer, who they feel is not treating them well. The animals form their own government where everyone is created equal, among other things. However, as time goes on, the pigs take over the leadership position, things slowly start to become less and less equal, other established rules are ignored, and the eloquent last line of the book compares the pigs to the farmers they originally sought to overthrow.

The Occupy Wall Street movement is still in its infancy, and looking to find a set of grievances or demands that all can agree upon. Based on what I’ve read in the Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Chicago discussion forums, most everyone agrees that it should be a leaderless movement, where everyone is allowed to provide input. In theory, this sounds nice. Everyone is equal, every single voice is heard. In practice, I don’t know how this would work. If no one is the boss, how will anything get done? It’s all fine and good to think that people will do things of their own volition, in a timely manner, and attempt to cooperate. However, as we can see from our own Congress, when push comes to shove that doesn’t often happen. Occupy Chicago uses a 90/10 voting system (which, sadly, someone on the discussion forum had to explain how to calculate), and it doesn’t seem to have accomplished much of anything. The movement here seems to be directionless, and in chaos. No one can figure out if they have the right to start a new committee or to take action, such is the fear that they will be viewed as trying to “lead” the leaderless movement. As a result, paralysis has set in.

Additionally, the Occupy movement is seeking monetary donations on their web sites. If they want to deal with this in a legal manner (which is still questionable), this leads to taxes, and some sort of corporate status. (It’s somewhat ironic that the movement will have to establish the very entity they appear to be against.) A corporation – or some other legal entity – will need to be established. This requires naming a board of directors and/or officers – in short, leaders. Even if the “leaders” are in name only (and who would agree to that if they have to have their name on the articles of incorporation and/or annual report as representing the corporation), someone will have to do the incorporating. Someone will have to either file the paperwork themselves or hire an attorney to do so. How will they choose an attorney? How will the attorney be paid? Who will write the check? Will this all be established via the 90/10 vote? Which decisions have to be run past the collective? All of them? What a colossal waste of time. I imagine our founding fathers figured this out over two hundred years ago, and hence ended up at a constitutional republic rather than a true democracy.

The discussion forums on the Occupy websites are a treasure trove of information on how things are really going on the inside. Already there are questions regarding where the donations are going and how to do things legally. (Good question – what are the monetary donations being used for, and how much has been collected?) Already people are seeking some consensus on what the group wants to have happen and the goals. How can you expect people to join a movement that can’t even clearly articulate what the end goal is? Many people have floated ideas from the reasonable (campaign finance reform) to the absurd (forgive all personal debts, including student loans.) Today the Occupy Chicago web site is promoting a discussion of the Communist Manifesto on Saturday. Is that what this movement is about? Who knows, but what a way to lose a lot of the 99% they seek to represent.

Some people are requesting that the group appoint a spokesperson; others disagree. There are complaints about lack of communication, the web site, changes in locations and plans, confusion about how the general assembly works, grumblings about the 90/10 vote, complaints about lack of solidarity, certain people attempting to take charge for the glory, the lack of organization, and the lack of meals for protestors. Indeed, the Occupy Chicago web site is only sporadically updated, and the official Twitter account rarely posts anything worthwhile other than “Come down to LaSalle/Jackson!” Since the media is providing very little coverage on this here in Chicago, it would seem to me that the web site, Facebook, and Twitter would be great ways to get the word out. But no one appears to be in charge of making sure this gets done. That’s what a leaderless movement gets you, and eventually will lead to a lack of interest. Who is going to sign on to a group that is in chaos?

And even assuming the whole “leaderless” movement works, things still have to get done – such as maintaining the website, organizing marches and other events, coordinating, organizing and distributing donations, communicating with the media, deciding how to spend donation money, filing tax returns, taking minutes during meetings, counting votes, deciding upon the grievances/demands worth pursuing, and seeking legal advice when necessary. Who decides who is going to do each of those things? What if you can’t get 90% of the people to agree to one person? (On how many things do 90% of people agree? I bet not many.) Does it just not get done? People may voluntarily do these kinds of things for a time; I would never discount the power of passion. However, after a certain amount of time has passed, they might want to get paid for the time they are putting in, or otherwise their jobs and other responsibilities may get in the way. And if they have to name a CEO or Treasurer for purposes of corporate documents, those people might want to get paid, too. So then you have some people getting paid, some people not getting paid…and the chance for the very corruption that was originally opposed.

Allowing everyone to have a voice is a valiant goal, and it is true that this whole movement is still in its infancy. But even though some of the complaints are valid, people aren’t signing on in droves, at least in Chicago. (Nor, for that matter, are the protestors who are there attempting to engage or convince anyone who walks by and wants to talk.  I know; I tried.)  Where it will end remains to be seen. And yet, while watching You Tube videos on this movement and the people involved, reading news articles, and reading the discussion boards and web sites, it struck me how quickly and easily it could lead to the end result in Animal Farm. At some point someone(s) will step up and take charge of things. And what will happen then?