The year 2021 has been a relatively good one for proponents of improving scientific innovation by way of protections for patent rights. Several breakthrough COVID-19 vaccines have been developed by major R&D firms in the pharmaceutical sector, and despite some myopic posturing by several global leaders, a waiver of international IP obligations under the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) has not materialized, ensuring that R&D leaders are properly incentivized to continue pursuing advanced treatments and vaccines for new variants like omicron. Although leading scientists certainly deserve more celebrity status for their advances, patent attorneys are often the unsung heroes of innovation who ensure that protectable property rights arising from those inventions are registered and can be licensed for society’s greater benefit. There’s still time to indulge the patent attorney in your life this Christmas with several of the following items that are designed to help attorneys during their daily practice, commemorate early career successes, or provide a fun outlet when an attorney needs to get away from work.
Niels Bohr Atom Model Mobile by Ole Flensted
In 1913, Danish physicist Niels Henrik David Bohr published a series of papers demonstrating his model of atomic structure which greatly advanced the science of physics, opening the door to quantum theory and helping the world to harness nuclear energy for better and for worse. This hanging mobile, designed by Ole Flensted in cooperation with the Niels Bohr Institute of Copenhagen, is comprised of a wooden ball nucleus surrounded by rings of orbiting electrons that swivel freely while suspended in midair. Available for $62.60 on the Finnish Design Shop website (with an additional $20 for overseas shipping), this could make a great addition to the office of an attorney who really enjoys the scientific aspects of patent work.
Clear Crystal Ball with Wooden Stand
This gift suggestion, which is far more practical than most may realize at first glance, comes to this list by way of Robert Simpson, Founding Partner at the intellectual property law firm Simpson & Simpson PLLC. The best Christmas gift Simpson has ever received was a crystal ball given to him early on in his career by his wife, trademark attorney and Simpson & Simpson co-founder Ellen Simpson, who came to this gift idea after listening to her husband consult with inventors on patentability and infringement issues. Many patent attorneys who deal with inventors regularly will be very keenly aware of the importance of tempering expectations. According to Robert, he has put this tool to good use many times when handling client questions.
I have gazed into this crystal ball, which sits majestically on a shelf in our library, thousands of times. I gaze when I need to know if an invention is patentable. I gaze if I need to know if an Examiner understands my client’s invention and will be persuaded by my arguments on nonobviousness. I gaze when I need a clearer picture as to what the judges on the PTAB will do with my client’s appeal. And I am not stingy with my crystal ball. I invite all of my clients to gaze deeply as well. When they ask me if it really works, I just smile and point out all the hardbound USPQ books on the shelves behind the glass sphere. Then I explain the principles of osmosis. And then we say a little prayer on patentability. It really does work. It seems to correctly predict the future 50% of the time!
So, remember: when “it depends” won’t work as an answer, just reach for the clarity of psychic telepathy when a prospective client demands to know if an invention will certainly pass Section 101 muster or that the court will absolutely decide claim construction in your client’s favor. The 6-inch crystal ball by Amlong, retailing on Amazon for $68.98, isn’t the only option available but has a classy appearance for a reasonable price.
Patent Pending T-Shirt from the USPTO Gift Store
For those who live near or frequent the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) campus in Alexandria, VA, a quick visit to the gift store will present several good stocking stuffer ideas, including the T-shirt in this picture shared with us by Jim Carmichael, Partner at Carmichael IP, PLLC. With first office action pendencies currently at an average of 16.9 months and total pendencies from application to final disposition currently averaging 23.4 months, most attorneys prosecuting patent applications at the USPTO will likely always have a reason to wear this shirt. You could buy one for the hardworking patent attorney in your life, or get one for every person in your patent family.
Another Jim Carmichael suggestion, a magnifying glass could be a useful gift for the patent attorney in your life, especially if that attorney works on drafting applications and has to inspect minute details of patent drawings to properly draft a patent specification. This Cersei Honey and Brass Distressed French Magnifier, available for $64 through Home Depot’s website, magnifies words and images up to three times and the distressed finish provides a stylishly worn appearance. While handheld magnifying glasses are the most common form available, other fashionable options exist like the Russian Imperial Magnifying Pendant, based on a pendant model by Fabergé and available for $95 through The Met Store’s website, or Garrett Wade’s Copper-Mounted Tabletop Magnifier, which features a magnifying glass with a six-inch diameter and retails online for $47.90.
Commemorative Patent Plaque
The first notice of allowance is a very proud and important day in the life of a young patent attorney. Turning that milestone into a memorable gift is made fairly simple thanks to the availability of custom plaque printing providers like PlaqueMaker and LazerDesigns, both of which allow customers to upload images for engraving onto plaques available in a variety of material including brass, bamboo and leatherette. Luis Figarella, Registered Patent Agent and Owner of Matrix Patent Agency, suggests that a patent plaque may be a good gift idea for a patent attorney who wants to celebrate a successful business relationship with an inventor this holiday season. Figarella shared an image showing several such plaques that he has been able to put together for several clients, including inventors from Argentina and Puerto Rico. This particular gift idea can be useful on several occasions for patent attorneys and patent agents as they rack up new successes over the course of their careers.
Women in Science by Rachel Ignotofsky
Stakeholders from across the U.S. patent system have been focusing on the topic of increasing diversity among the population of America’s inventors as well as within the patent bar itself. This set of Women in Science postcards by author and illustrator Rachel Ignotofsky can help a patent attorney turn a mundane note to a friend or business associate into an opportunity to celebrate the contributions of women to various branches of science. This set, listing on Amazon for $20, contains 100 postcards depicting 50 highly renowned and lesser-known figures in women science including physicist Marie Curie, zoologist Joan Beauchamp Procter and the 4th century AD Greek astronomer and mathematician Hypatia. Amazon also lists a Women in Science hardcover book by Ignotofsky featuring full profiles of the 50 women scientists in the postcard set, as well as a simplified board book version for younger readers and a 500-piece Women in Science jigsaw puzzle for those who enjoy that quiet pastime.
Attorney’s Dictionary of Patent Claims by Eric E. Bensen
The Attorney’s Dictionary of Patent Claims is a three-volume set that provides a comprehensive lexicon of modern patent claim language created from analysis of thousands of patent claims accepted as patentable by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Claim terms are listed alphabetically and also listed in classification order, helping a patent attorney draft a patent application using terms that have been found appropriate for claiming technologies within a certain patent class. Claim terms are also annotated with case law determinations on the patentability of the claim language, which is useful in light of the differences between the broadest reasonable interpretation (BRI) of claim terms employed by the USPTO during patent prosecution and the narrower clam construction standard employed by U.S. district courts under the Phillips standard. At just over $3,000, this dictionary set is certainly a significant investment but could be a tremendous resource especially for a young patent attorney who is trying to quickly get up to speed in an unfamiliar area of technology.
Programmable Robotic Kits
Patent systems across the globe are starting to grapple with the impacts of artificial intelligence (AI) both in terms of the patentability of AI inventions as well as the patentability of inventions that are themselves created by the AI systems. Whether or not the patent attorney in your life prosecutions patent applications related to robotics, a programmable robotic kit could add some clout to an office space or just be a fun way to while away the hours while gaining computer coding skills. The Ultimate 2.0 10-in-1 Programmable Robot Kit from Makeblock retails at $349.99 and features a set of 550 mechanical and electronic components controllable with Arduino hardware and Python programming language. Patent attorneys may be particularly interested in the Ultimate 2.0’s bartender mode. Those who may have more familiarity with Raspberry Pi computer hardware may find more enjoyment out of the PiCar-V by SunFounder, which retails for $115 (Raspberry Pi not included) and comes with a 120-degree USB camera with two-axis pan-and-tilt servos and can be programmed either with Python language or with Dragit visual programming. For those seeking a more stationary unit that can add a futuristic look to any desk, the LewanSoul Robotic Arm Kit, based on Arduino open-source computing hardware, retails for $139.99 on Amazon and includes a high-precision digital servo for more accurate controls. A patent attorney could really flex some technological prowess by coding this robotic arm to pick up a pen and sign a response to an office action. It’s probably ill-advised, but it is possible.
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