patent pending

"A 'patent pending' notice gives one no knowledge whatsoever."
State Indus., Inc. v. A.O. Smith Corp., 751 F.2d 1226, 1236 (Fed. Cir. 1985).

September 30, 2003

Partner Wisdom

"Ok IA, since we need to get this brief out tonight, I'm going to need you to exercise your legal skills at the copier for a while."

Minimally Competent

My firm, like most firms, has a minimum billable hours requirement. This means you have to bill a certain amount of hours a month, which is difficult because there are a lot of things you end up doing all day that do not count as billable time (see, e.g., this blog).

This month, for the first time in my two-year career at this firm, I made the minimum requirement.

Yes, today I move from "unsatisfactory" to "barely satisfactory."

It's all about being as minimally competent as possible. As a celebration, I think I'll leave early today.

September 29, 2003

The Older Brother
My older brother will buy you a drink, even if he just met you.

My older brother will let you stay at his house. He'll even make you dinner. If you drive to his place and he senses that you are getting tipsy, he will sober up just so that he can take you home.

My older brother will call somebody he knows to help you with that. He will proofread your resume and suggest the most beautiful language on earth to describe your shit job.

If he gets an e-mail from me that sounds like I am depressed, he will call me up and tell me crazy stories. He will offer to take me to lunch.

My older brother once had a barbeque and forgot to buy a grill. But since he remembered to buy ketchup at Sam's Club, he had about 10 gallons of ketchup. He just drove out and bought a grill.

My brother will cook a meal consisting entirely of rice, peas, and Tabasco. In fact, he puts Tabasco on almost everything.

If you tell my brother that you like something in his house, he will offer it to you. If you refuse, he will go out and get you one.

My older brother will throw a punch at someone if you tell him to- without asking why- regardless of the other guy's size. And even though he always takes off his shoes to fight (?) he never loses.

My older brother will wave you in when he's driving but will curse at you loudly if you forget to use your turning signal. Actually, that's my younger brother as well.

My older brother got engaged over the weekend. So today, on his 30th birthday, I just wanted to say that I love him and wish him the best of luck. But mostly, I wish her the best of luck. I lived with him for years, and it isn't easy.

September 27, 2003

A Memo is Necessary

Look, there are some things that attorneys should not wear to work- even on weekends.

September 26, 2003

Just Following Orders

Today I got this e-mail from a client:
"By our letter of January 8, 2003, we have asked you to note the abandonment of the case and to close your file. This was not a request to abandon the application."

I sincerely hope that your weekend will be better than mine. Be well, everyone.


Why can't I learn to shut my fucking mouth?

September 25, 2003

The Good Son

I took both of my parents and my two brothers out to dinner last night to celebrate my upcoming raise. We went out to the all-you-can-eat Brazilian steakhouse.

IA: "What is that?"
Drink Waiter "is very famous Brazilian drink."
IA: "Ok, we'll have 5 of them."

And it was all good after that point.

The waiters walk around with different pieces of meat (on swords) and cut you whatever you like. I became very friendly with bacon-wrapped turkey guy and pork loin guy. Garlic-marinated sirloin guy was exciting at first, but I got bored of him and ended our relationship. And no matter who else came along, I could never stop seeing prime rib guy, my old reliable.

September 24, 2003

Trouble in Paradise

You know when she's trying to tell you something she thinks is important and you think she's looking away and she catches you watching tv out of the corner of your eye?


September 23, 2003

Second Wind

Sometimes you feel like life is not worth living. Yesterday was bad and today doesn't look any better.

But then you read in today's NY Times that some guy invented Cheeseburger Fries. "The fries, which look like a squat version of standard French fries, are made of a meat-and-cheese compound that tastes - as the name suggests - like a cheeseburger." The fries are "Breaded, then deep-fried and served with ketchup or barbecue sauce..."

And then you realize that everything is going to be all right.

Just like that, I have plans for this weekend. Everybody to my place, we're going to reverse engineer cheeseburger fries. Start warming up the deep fryer.

September 22, 2003

The Older Brother

My older brother is throwing a 30th birthday party for himself. When he went to the card store to look for invitations, the cheapest ones he could find were for a Bridal Shower. He determined that they needed some modification.

September 19, 2003

All Up In Your Busines

You know that e-mail you wrote about what you would like to do to that's guy's secretary?

You know that e-mail you wrote about your one night stand with the guy in the club last night?

You know that porn picture that you thought was hilarious so you forwarded it to "the guys?"

I saw it all.

You see kids, when one company sues another company, the companies request all e-mails from each other regarding the subject matter of the case.

But sometimes a company doesn't want to filter through all of their e-mails for the relevant ones so it just sends every e-mail ever written on their server to the other law firm. They think they're clever- "haha, watch how much money they will have to pay their attorneys to read all of these e-mails" - but it ALWAYS backfires. They end up sending some relevant information to the other side that should not have been sent (due to privilege).

I'm on a big case and I've been reading e-mails all week. I read about how drunk you were last night. I read about that time you did that really bad thing with that person. I read about your aunt who lives in Philadelphia.

So watch what you write with in your company e-mails. I may read it one day.

Greatest Edits

I am not a huge fan of "greatest hits" collections. I believe that regular albums represent a period of time for an artist and they are arranged and produced in a way that should be respected.

As the Kids in the Hall once said, "Greatest Hits albums are for housewives and little girls."

But I caved and bought the best of Dire Straits. I mean, do you NEED more than one Dire Straits album?

I was most unpleasantly surprised to find that "Money for Nothing" had a verse missing. I remember a verse with a line that said something like "that little faggot, he's a millionaire."

They cut the verse for the word "faggot?" I admit it's not a pleasant word, and certainly not one I use. But I thought the song was supposed to be from the viewpoint of crass, blue collar workers. I thought it was a joke.

Yeah, so Dire Straits sucks.

September 18, 2003

Matter of Morale

Nothing improves your morale like being asked to write a memo that you already wrote and handed in last week.

Extra points if you can spot the actual memo in the boss's office as he is describing the assignment to you.

Matter of Degree
I was dining al fresco last night at Wollensky's Grill when two large gentlemen walked by. They had a combined weight of about 600 pounds, complete with pinky rings, gold chains, greased hair, etc.

I only caught one line of their conversation:
"Nah, she's hot but she aint STRIPPER hot."

September 17, 2003

Dear New York City,
I lost my portable compact disc player. It's a black Sony, with a burned cd in it labeled "Michael Jackson." The cd has most of Thriller on it and some of Off the Wall.

Please take a brief look around your area. Whoever has it, please let me know in the comments. Thanks.


To the guy I spotted last night on 74th and Columbus, on his balcony putting up his Christmas lights:

Nice. Very nice.

September 16, 2003

I'm very excited about that new contraceptive patch that women stick on their skin.

This means that if I ever get married, I can pretend to pat my wife on the small of her back and actually stick a patch there.

How's she going to know? I'm the one who washes her back, right? How often do you look at your back in the mirror?

September 15, 2003


I wasn't paying attention today when the barber asked me if I wanted gel and now I have a plastic, malodorous mass on my head made up of gobs of the cheapest hair gel on the fucking planet.

Law Colored Glasses

I used to love listening to DJ Red Alert as a kid on the radio- he was the king of the "MasterMix" on Saturday night. He would mix all of the latest rap songs into one huge, beautiful work of art.

Now, Funk Flex is the big Saturday night DJ on Hot 97. He's good, but his cuts can get annoyingly repetitive sometimes.

I was listening to Flex on Saturday night and thinking "I wonder if flex has to pay some special kind of license to these artists because he's remixing their work and creating a derivative work. That probably isn't covered by a standard radio station license."

I realized that the mastermix raises some interesting intellectual property issues. I also realized that I suck.

September 12, 2003

Tips for Idiots

It is interviewing season in the law world. I have been interviewing lots of law students in the past three weeks. Some of them were less than impressive. And since I live to serve, Patent Pending is proud to present some job interview tips.

1. If you have "movie buff" on your resume, and I ask you what your favorite movie is, "I like a lot of movies" is a terrible answer. Pick one. Spy Kids. Flubber. Jenna loves IA. Whatever.
2. Everybody likes music and cooking. Take that off your resume or be more specific.
3. You get 3 seconds to look around my office. After that, make eye contact.
4. Yeah, that's a picture of JFK on my wall. It's not relevant to your future.
5. Your answers don't have to be true. They have to be good. You want to be an attorney.
6. If your GPA has gone down since I got your resume, don't bring that up.
7. If I ask you why you decided to go to law school, don't say "I wanted to serve humanity."
8. Don't talk about religion or politics.
9. Don't ask me the canned questions you see on I will give you canned answers from
10. If I ask you what kind of music you like, "all kinds" is a terrible answer. See tip 1.
11. If I ask you how you like your law school, do not reply "The teachers are outstanding and I love to learn."
12. Learn to talk without moving your hands all the time. This is not Brooklyn.
13. We all know you went to good schools and have good grades. We interview to determine whether you're a complete asshole. Don't be one.
14. If I ask you about your work experience, don't lie. I will ask you more detailed questions and you will feel like a tool.
15. If you say on your resume that you know C++, and I ask you if you know any C#, know what C# is. Or, look at all the C# books on my shelf. They're next to the C, C++, C.NET, and Pascal books. Figure it out, fuckhead.
16. You can make one comment about the weather and one about sports. That's it.
17. If you have "web design" as a hobbyon your resume, I will ask you for a web site you worked on. If you don't have one, make one up. I won't check whether you worked on
18. Ask the interviewer what kind of cases they work on. Ask specific questions: what was the technology, what were the issues. Attorneys love to talk about themselves.
19. If it says on your resume that you do volunteer work, but you actually stopped when you got into law school, you don't actually DO volunteer work.
20. Don't comment on my orchid. I'm sensitive about it.

Please feel free to add to the list.

The Life

This conversation took place in my office today at 7:30 am.

Partner: I don't have time to look at this right now. Can you work late tonight?
IA: No, it's my girlfriend's birthday, I am taking her to dinner.
Partner: Oh, that's nice. Ok, that's fine, we'll do it at like 10 or 11.
IA: Tonight?
Partner: Yeah, that'll be fine.
IA: But I wasn't really planning on coming back here after dinner.
Partner: Hey, I said you could take her to dinner.

So.. who wants to break the news to my girlfriend?

September 11, 2003


This one is for all the patent lawyers out there:

"Markman is like sex. Timing is everything."
Control Res., Inc. v. Delta Elecs., Inc., 133 F. Supp. 2d 121, 126 (D. Mass. 2001).


There is a partner here who revises everything millions of times. He's actually a genius and is usually a pleasure to work for, but if his girlfriend wrote him a love note he would mark it up and ask for a redline.

I handed him a draft of a patent application last night. I wrote it from scratch because the client just sent us the invention without any written description.

He read the whole thing, made a few minor changes, and said, "This is really good. Where did you get this?" I was shocked. I said, "I wrote it."

He said, "Really?"

I said, "Hey, I'm as surprised as you are."

September 10, 2003

Pocky Problems

Last night I made a serious error. I answered one of the questions you're never supposed to answer (i.e., "Do I look fat?," "Is she attractive?," "Why did you break up?," etc.).

Girl: you're awfully quiet. What are you thinking about?
IA: Pocky. Did you see that green Pocky in the store? I wonder what flavor that is.
Girl: You're thinking about Pocky?
IA: Yeah. I guess it could be apple. Or melon.
Girl: Or lime.
IA: Yeah, lime. Do they have lime candy in China? Could be Kiwi. What were you thinking about?
Girl: How much I love you.
IA: Oh... I need to go back to that store and buy some of that Pocky.

And today I did- it's green tea flavor. As docks would say, "Pocky! For Big Enjoy!"

September 09, 2003

To M.R., A Lost Love

I dreamt about you last night.

We always knew our relationship was not forever. That only fueled my passions and made my love for you stronger. I cherished the time we spent together. I savored every second of it.

I still think about you. I miss the taste of you on my lips. I miss beginning my day and ending my day with you.

I have moved on, and I know you have as well. But I don't think there will ever be a day in my life that I will not think about you.

I miss you.

September 08, 2003

The Bite Me Cake

All of my cousins, uncles, aunts, and brothers gather every Sunday at my grandmother's house at noon for pasta. (This is the Italian side of the family, and this is a fairly common tradition among Italian families.)

There are a lot of rules set by my grandmother and grandfather. I follow them.

One of the rules is: on the Sunday before your birthday, you have to bring the cake, and everyone sings. This applies to everyone. Even my mother must bring her own cake.

My cousin, who is my age and a police officer, showed up without a cake yesterday. His birthday is today. My grandmother kicked him out. He left, went to Carvel, got a cake, and came back. He was indignant about being kicked out, so he had the fine people at Carvel write "BITE ME" on the cake. My grandmother was pleased with the cake and everybody sang.

September 05, 2003

I Love My Mom

My cousin on my dad's side just got engaged. She's my age and we spent a lot of time together as kids. She's throwing a big engagement party this
weekend and my dad has been saying that "we should all go." I sent her a check last weekend figuring that it was better than carrying the card into the party with me.

She called my Dad on Monday to say she got my check but I was not invited. She only invited my parents. She didn't invite me or my two brothers.

I thought, hey, that's cool. No big deal.

But then she cashed the check.

My mother was quite insulted that her children were not invited. My dad thinks his side of the family is angelic. He still wants to go to the party. I said to my mother "I don't think you should go. Show some solidarity."

My mom, ever the genius, said "Your father is making me go. So I'll just show up and eat all of their fucking shrimp."


I go to lunch with the same guy almost every day. We started together two years ago and I respect him a lot, since he's older and wiser than I.

Today he came back from a one week vacation. I walked into his office this morning and said "Hey, welcome back. Wow, you smell nice- you get a new cologne?"

He replied, "Actually I did."

I thought for a second and said "Ok, let's not mention that conversation ever again."


September 04, 2003


Hello. My name is IA, and I'm a Jets fan.

Liking the Jets is like dating a married person. It's usually very exciting, even if you know it's wrong. They make promises; they seem like they can go all the way. But deep down, you know that they're only going to break your heart in the end.

You know it just isn't meant to be.

September 03, 2003

Patent Folk

The Patent Office has a very efficient way of dealing with deadlines: as long as you get your document to the post office on the deadline AND send it Express Mail, it's all good. No FedEx, no UPS, no first class, no carrier pigeons. Express Mail only.

6:05 PM may not be an important time in your day, but at my firm the guy who brings the express mail to the post office leaves every day at 6:05 pm. There is always a mad rush to get everything to him in time but many attorneys end up making trips to the post office to drop off their filings.

Last night was one of those nights for me. Something was due, yesterday was the deadline, and I had to make the trip to the post office at 10pm. There are two post offices in Midtown that accept Express Mail until midnight: the GPO on 33rd street which is open 24 hours a day (and attracts strange people paying their electric bills at 11:30pm) and the FDR Post Office on 54th and 3rd.

I went to the FDR Post Office because there are better bars around there. There I met Laura. Laura is the only Express Mail clerk from 6-midnight. I asked her what kind of people she sees.

Laura: Oh, I see all patent and trademark people.
IA: Really? What are they like? I never get to ask someone what patent lawyers are like.
Laura: They're ok, most of them. After 11 they get a little irritated. But they're ok. Most of them are quiet. Yeah, I must know every patent lawyer in New York. Some of them get all crazy about the stamp and tell me how to do my job. But most of them are ok. I like when they tell me the date. I know the date, stupid, I work in the post office.

I did not know it at the time, but I crossed a threshold last night. I felt like more of a patent attorney. I met Laura. And now, Laura knows me.

September 02, 2003


Sometimes, you are the only one who understands your family.

Mom: I just rented that movie, 10-something.
IA: 10-something? Who is in it?
Mom: That white guy.
IA: Oh, you rented 8 Mile.
Mom: Yeah, that's it.

September 01, 2003

Homeward Bound

I rarely comment on the news on this blog but I think it's the funniest shit on earth that they put that kid who created the virus under house arrest.

Yeah, that's a really harsh punishment. Looks like he might miss his soccer practice. And he might miss out on all the cool parties. House arrest for a computer nerd is not a punishment. I wonder how his girlfriend will cope.

If anything, they should let him out of the house just to get him away from the Twinkies.


The life of the IA, comprising:
residing in Manhattan;
practicing law;
deep frying things;
and generally living for your amusement.

Amy C.
CW (hiatus)
JR (vacation)
Scott S.

Secondary Sources
Me Head
Cooking for Losers


Statement of Law

"[T]he 'warning' of impending patent issuance, whether by a 'patent pending' marking or by direct information from the patentee, imposes no liability but is simply a cautionary notice of a possible future event." Nat'l Presto Indus., Inc. v. West Bend Co., 76 F.3d 1185, 1196 (Fed. Cir. 1996).

"This is a case where there was no real defense so attorneys for the Defendant had no choice but to fight every inch of the way. Objections, motions, and obfuscation was the defense. It was the only defense possible. Truth was the enemy. Stalingrad was saved by the Russians in World War II by literally wearing out the Germans, and this type of defense by lawyers in the last half of the last century came to be known as the Stalingrad defense. Wear the opponents out. Fight for every step. However, the Plaintiff's attorneys brought every possible action under multiple states laws and under federal law that could possibly apply and the battle became irreconcilable. Thus, rancor and accusations became the byword. This is not to indicate that the attorneys defending or prosecuting the case violated any rules of ethical conduct. However, fighting on ridiculous matters became paramount. This in turn caused undue rancor. Argumentum ad Hominum became the key and flavored the entire case and continues to do so." X-It Prods., LLC v. Walter Kidde Portable Equip., Inc., 227 F. Supp. 2d 494, 549 (E.D. Va. 2002).

"This case therefore illustrates the mischief and misery that can accompany the over enforcement of patents rights." Rite-Hite Corp. v. Kelley Co., 56 F.3d 1538, 1577 (Fed. Cir. 1995).