Archive for the ‘misc’ Category

Hyperion Law in the New York Times!

"Microphone with 'On Air' light"I’m excited to share that Hyperion Law was in the New York Times! Hyperion law shows up on page 2 of this article on entrepreneurial attorneys.

It’s thrilling to get coverage in such a prestigious paper on a topic I’m passionate about. I have a huge amount of respect for my friends, mentors and role models in large law firms, and believe that there are good lawyers to be found in large firms – but I also believe the large firm model doesn’t work well for all clients. So it’s important to me that people know that there are viable alternatives to work with equally qualified attorneys.

Special thanks to Garrett Dodge of Roqbot and Bobbie Carlton of Innovation Nights, who let me know about the opportunity to speak with the New York Times, and to Eilene Zimmerman, the author of the article!

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Thank you!

Thanks :) Another Thanksgiving holiday, another opportunity to reflect on how appreciative I am of my community. As I continue my quest to passionately provide outstanding service to clients I believe in, I feel particularly grateful for all the support and encouragement I’ve received from so many of you. Whether it’s retweeting a message, sharing a blog post, trusting me with your work, acting as a sounding board and providing feedback on my process, or just being an enthusiastic member of the community, you (yes, you!) make a difference and I’m thankful. Happy holidays!

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Steve Jobs

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I want to join the rest of the world in mourning the loss of Steve Jobs and offering my condolences to his family. Like so many of us who are in technology-related work, or who love elegant, well designed devices that just work, my life and the world I live in has been indelibly changed by Steve Jobs.

I have been immersed in the world of technology since before I can remember. I learned to tell time with one computer game and did reading comprehension exercises with another one; I was reading lines of code before I could write my name in cursive. However, even though I’ve never lived in a world without computers, I have lived in a world where technology was unfriendly, hard to use, and not for the uninitiated; a time and place where people were turned off by the mysterious and challenging pre-reqs for leveraging the technology’s power. It’s a wondrous thing, then, to look around and see a world where grandmothers take it for granted that they can use FaceTime to see their grandchildren’s baby steps, where toddlers are tracing out their ABCs on an iPad, and where the technologically unsophisticated of any age can install an application on a mobile device and use it to make their lives more productive, more efficient, or even just more fun. In short, many of us have access to technology that really does enable us to live life as depicted in a sappy Apple commercial – and the progress we’ve made has without doubt been furthered by Steve Jobs. I count myself lucky to have seen the world before and after him and the technologies he brought to the mass market, to have seen the impact of elegant, accessible design, and the impact of even a little bit of competition on staid marketplaces. He has truly lived a magical, revolutionary life and I’m grateful for every minute he was here.

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Hyperion Law was on WGBH!

Posted on August 2, 2011 by

I’m excited to share that on July 28th, I had the opportunity to be on WGBH’s TV show, “Greater Boston”! It was thrilling to be on a panel of young entrepreneurs discussing start-ups and then to see the conversation on my televsion set :) Additionally, since public broadcasting and shows from WGBH were such a big part of my childhood, it was a real honor to be able to give back in a small way by contributing to their content. The video of the segment is below.

Patent Hall of Shame: Saying Goodbye Game

Posted on June 22, 2011 by

Even the most patent friendly amongst us have come across patents that give them pause. Next up in our continuing series on crazy, bizarre, and downright funny patents is US Patent No. 5,256,068, directed to a “Saying Goodbye Game.” Since it is challenging to help a child understand and cope with the death of a loved one, this patent is directed to a good-bye game allowing adults to play the game with children and help the children overcome their grief – and it’s economical in cost to manufacture, too! It comes with a little shovel, a tape cassette player (!) for playing proper funeral music, and a coffin with a dead body doll. Everything you need to pretend you’re burying someone, neatly laid out in Figures 1-8:

My first impression at reading this patent was that this is completely crazy. But then if I think of how hard it would be to have to help a little child deal with the unexpected death of a loved one, and I wonder how many tools are actually out there. Sure, there are millions of articles on the Internet and that one Sesame Street episode where Big Bird has to deal with the death of Mr. Hooper… But I can’t see handing a parent a stack of literature to wade through as they’re dealing with their own grief and that of their child’s. So, as with most of the patents in the Hall of Shame, I started with a snicker but had to conclude that this isn’t such a crazy thing to patent after all. (… Still. A toy tombstone?!)


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A “Twitterview”

Posted on June 1, 2011 by

"Microphone with 'On Air' light" So, I had my first “Twitterview” yesterday. Until a few weeks ago, it hadn’t occurred to me that you might use Twitter to interview people. Then I got introduced to @22Twts and The Godard Group, where they do exactly that. They send you the questions a few hours in advance and then you respond to 22 tweeted questions.

Now that I think about it, this is brilliant. It’s a fun challenge for the lawyer – you only get 140 characters to respond to really interesting questions! – and a fun way for Twitter users to get to know the lawyer. Here are some of my favorite questions (and corresponding answers) from the interview:

Q: What would you say is the single most important legal issue affecting clients?
A: Understanding case law’s impact on software #patents & how to draft claims satisfying legal reqs while remaining useful to business

Q: How do you describe what you do to people you meet at a cocktail party?
A: “I help companies protect their world-changing technology via strategic use of IP. And run a radically different law firm to do so.”

Q: What would you do if you weren’t a lawyer?
A: An astrophysicist or an anthropologist. Or maybe an anthropologist who studies humanity’s obsession with the universe ;)

You can see a transcript of the entire exchange here. And thanks again to Lance Godard and @22Twts for this opportunity!


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Anatomy of a Patent Application

Posted on May 11, 2011 by

We’ve previously looked at the anatomy of different types of patent claims. But, like the claims, the application itself is also not as intuitive to read as we might wish. So let’s take a look at the anatomy of a typical software patent application.


Believe it or not: Amazon 1-click Patent Shows System Works

Posted on April 26, 2011 by

Keyboard button with the word "learn" on itFew patents have inspired as much confusion, horror or even revulsion as the infamous Amazon “1-click” patent. This patent covers the ability to send a purchaser identifier and a request to order an item to a server, in response to only a single action being performed by a client. I often hear about how ridiculous it is to allow a patent on buying something with one click and how offensive it is that Amazon actually enforced the patent. While there are plenty of ridiculous patents, and plenty of companies taking advantage of the system in truly lamentable ways, there are two big reasons why the 1-click patent is actually proof of our patent system doing the right thing.

Do you remember the Internet in the fall of 1997? We’d barely had search engines for two years, Google hadn’t yet incorporated, and we were just starting to learn about MP3s. This was an era before dancing hamsters and rickrolling, and only a minority of companies had any web presence to speak of. If you approach the idea of 1-click from the perspective of someone trying to shop on-line via dial-up back in ’97, it starts to sound pretty revolutionary. Most sites required many steps to complete a transaction, intentionally modeled after brick and mortar stores with shopping cart interfaces mimicking real-world shopping experiences. So Amazon’s approach passes a litmus test of patentable material – that the patented idea was truly new.

Secondly, Amazon used their patent in a very innovation-friendly manner. Throughout history, patents have played a vital role in helping a new innovator gain a toehold against established ways of doing business. The Amazon patent issued in September 1999; e-commerce was just starting to gain traction, competition amongst e-retailers was intense, and Christmas was coming. In October 1999, Amazon sued Barnes & Noble and overcame B&N’s arguments to convince a court that there was a real question about infringement that B&N had to remove or modify their “Express Lane” feature. Regardless of how the case would go, Amazon was able to keep B&N from capturing all those holiday shoppers who were just starting to figure out they could do their shopping on-line. This is a case where a patent gave a forward thinking, innovative “David” a fighting chance against a “Goliath” – a Goliath doing everything it could to imitate, not innovate.

There’s no denying that there’s a lot to fix about the patent system – the Patent Office needs funding to hire and retain better-trained Examiners and to eliminate the current backlog; the patent term for software patents could stand to be shortened significantly. But just as important as the nay-saying is to focus on the times when the system does exactly what it’s supposed to do – promote progress.


Hall of Shame: US Pat. No. 3,821,425, “Salad on a Stick”

Posted on April 18, 2011 by

There are some pretty unusual patents out there – even patent lovers have to admit it! Today we’ll look at what ought to be Exhibit A in a Patents Hall of Shame: The Salad on a Stick.

This 1974 patent was the subject of my favorite law school examination. It’s directed to a food storing and serving device made up of a stick (“an elongated member”) shrink-wrapped and attached to a dressing container at the end (“temporarily principally enclosed within a combination container and lid”). The stick is “constructed to pierce a series of meat and/or vegetable items” and includes a hollow interior serving as a conduit for the passage of a liquid flavoring medium (e.g., salad dressing).

The idea is that when you’re ready for your salad, you’d squeeze the dressing up from the bottom through the hollow interior. That way, the salad won’t get all wilty from sitting in dressing all day and you don’t have to carry around a separate container with the dressing. Not a bad idea given how many recipes Google turns up for “salad on a stick”, none of which address how to keep the dressing from spilling all over the place. But a rather unusual thing to patent!


PTO Reform may be minutes away

Posted on March 3, 2011 by

After years of waiting for patent reform, and agonizing over whether it would be good or bad or useless, the patent world may soon find out that Congress has actually passed a reform act. I hear the Senate is voting as we speak and that very soon we’ll have some interesting changes to discuss! Two of the more exciting things from my perspective would be:
– that the Patent Office would have the authority to set fees – and define the filing discounts smaller companies get!
– that the Patent Office can keep the fees it collects, instead of being required to give the majority of the fees over to Congress.

I’m going to go back to hitting “refresh” on the web sites and will post an update when there’s news.