Possible idea: software patents?

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Stevoman
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Possible idea: software patents?

Postby Stevoman » Tue Sep 27, 2011 11:02 am

First post here, was hoping to get some input from you guys on the potential for this PS subject. Mostly to see if it's a terrible idea before I write it.

Some background would be appropriate: I graduated from Houston with a BSEE last year. My area of study was embedded microcomputer systems, and I have been working in the computer industry for many years. I did general programming part-time while in college, and have been working full time as a firmware engineer at Hewlett-Packard since graduation.

In my time at HP, I have become acutely aware of the problems associated with software patents. Employees are not only encouraged, but are also financially rewarded, for securing as many patents as possible for HP, regardless of how obvious or silly the patent is. I have participated in conversations where coworkers stated something along the lines of "I can't believe the USPTO actually gave me that patent...oh well, at least I'll get my bonus at the end of the year for it." I'll try to take some pictures of the patents we have hung outside of our lab, but my personal favorite was something along the lines of "Method for remotely managing a computer system over a network connection." HP's incentive for doing this is to give themselves as much fuel as possible to get rid of any "little guys" that could potentially compete with HP, by legislating them away with ridiculous patent suits. HP has, in fact, brought action against former employees of my group who left and made a product to compete with ours, even after their no-compete agreement had expired.

The general theme for my PS idea (and really is the reason I want to go to law school) is that someone needs to fight for these little guys, and I want to be that someone. Both to defend the little guys against existing big corporations' patent legislation, and to participate in reforming the current system so that potential for big corporations' abuse in the future is lower.

What do you think? Good idea, bad idea? I'm inexperienced in this, and so am not entirely sure how I should write my PS to appeal to whoever on the admissions council will be reading it. Thanks for any input. :)

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theadvancededit
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Re: Possible idea: software patents?

Postby theadvancededit » Tue Sep 27, 2011 1:50 pm

I think it's a very good topic idea-- it shows your drive and also what you you're looking to get out of law school. Of course, what is most important is that it's well written.

EDIT: Damn you, autocorrect.
Last edited by theadvancededit on Tue Sep 27, 2011 3:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

bree
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Re: Possible idea: software patents?

Postby bree » Tue Sep 27, 2011 2:08 pm

I think this is a good idea for a personal statement, as it shows that you've had exposure to legal issues in your job. Moreover, I think a little bit of idealism/hope is good for an admissions essay.

That being said, I'm not sure how many lawyers are able to "fight for the little guy" in practice (there is some of this ... and there does probably need to be more but it's a small part). Most of the big law firms that dominate on campus recruiting do legal work for large corporations who can pay the legal bills.

Perhaps an alternative approach would be to say that you want to "fight against patent trolls"? Or maybe this can be another part of your statement?

Best of luck.

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paratactical
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Re: Possible idea: software patents?

Postby paratactical » Tue Sep 27, 2011 2:11 pm

Ummm it's probably not a good idea to specifically reference HP. Also, it's probably not a good idea to post and specifically mention them.

Stevoman
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Re: Possible idea: software patents?

Postby Stevoman » Tue Sep 27, 2011 3:49 pm

Something else I forgot to mention, is that when I was in school I also spent a summer working with a professor of mine doing technical consulting on a high profile case related to wireless devices. This case was almost the opposite of my experiences at HP: the little guy (who I was helping) was suing several tech megacorps that had stolen their technology and was using it in devices they were selling. The little guys did end up winning, and rightfully so, as their business had shrunk from 70 employees plus manufacturing facilities to less than 20 employees in a rented office space, due to losses from the theft of their technology. Would it be worth working that into my PS as well?

paratactical wrote:Ummm it's probably not a good idea to specifically reference HP. Also, it's probably not a good idea to post and specifically mention them.


What is wrong with specific references? It's not exactly a secret that every tech megacorp on the planet trolls the patent system.

Barring mentioning them in my PS, should I just say something like "a Fortune 500 tech company?"

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theadvancededit
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Re: Possible idea: software patents?

Postby theadvancededit » Tue Sep 27, 2011 3:55 pm

Stevoman wrote:Something else I forgot to mention, is that when I was in school I also spent a summer working with a professor of mine doing technical consulting on a high profile case related to wireless devices. This case was almost the opposite of my experiences at HP: the little guy (who I was helping) was suing several tech megacorps that had stolen their technology and was using it in devices they were selling. The little guys did end up winning, and rightfully so, as their business had shrunk from 70 employees plus manufacturing facilities to less than 20 employees in a rented office space, due to losses from the theft of their technology. Would it be worth working that into my PS as well?


You should mention that, as an example of the work you actually have done helping the "little man"; this could give your essay an edge, as more realistic rather than idealistic.


Stevoman wrote:Barring mentioning them in my PS, should I just say something like "a Fortune 500 tech company?"


That would work.

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TommyK
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Re: Possible idea: software patents?

Postby TommyK » Tue Sep 27, 2011 4:00 pm

paratactical wrote:Ummm it's probably not a good idea to specifically reference HP. Also, it's probably not a good idea to post and specifically mention them.


Why not? I mean of course OP wouldn't want to frame it in the way where he's bitching about his former employer like he has sour grapes, but his overarching theme is that the patent system is broken and highlighting a specific example adds context to his belief. Particularly with patent reform transforming the system into a first-to-file system, there will be even more pressure for big companies like HP to file stupid patents like this which may further break the system and create anti-competitive pressures. I think making a PS that talks about your interest in this and your awareness of reform would seperate you from your competition and it could be interesting.

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paratactical
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Re: Possible idea: software patents?

Postby paratactical » Tue Sep 27, 2011 4:24 pm

Maybe I'm overly cautious, but it could burn some bridges that could be useful later, especially if career prospects work out differently. Further, I would be hesitant to basically call a company I previously worked for a patent troll.

dani_burhop
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Re: Possible idea: software patents?

Postby dani_burhop » Tue Sep 27, 2011 4:33 pm

This is a good essay idea. Make sure you are sending it to law schools that specialize in relevant areas for this, though.

HP presumably is in your CV; you can decide how anti-HP you want your essay to come across.

Best, Dani

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TommyK
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Re: Possible idea: software patents?

Postby TommyK » Wed Sep 28, 2011 8:02 am

paratactical wrote:Maybe I'm overly cautious, but it could burn some bridges that could be useful later, especially if career prospects work out differently. Further, I would be hesitant to basically call a company I previously worked for a patent troll.


Okay, I can see that, but I assumed this PS would not be for public consumption or posted on the company's intranet or sent to the HP leadership. It's just going to be sent to the schools and I think it can be framed in a way where he's not casting dispersions on the company, but pointing out that the flawed system is incentivizing the big players in the market to file patents without much merit and over-litigating.

I think a concern with this PS, if there is one, is not to come off like you feel like you're going to single-handedly reform the patent process like an intellectual property superman. I think that may come off as a bit naive, which would be at odds with what I feel is probably a pretty grounded theme that seems based on legitimate concern.

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redsox
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Re: Possible idea: software patents?

Postby redsox » Wed Sep 28, 2011 8:12 am

TommyK wrote:
paratactical wrote:Maybe I'm overly cautious, but it could burn some bridges that could be useful later, especially if career prospects work out differently. Further, I would be hesitant to basically call a company I previously worked for a patent troll.


Okay, I can see that, but I assumed this PS would not be for public consumption or posted on the company's intranet or sent to the HP leadership. It's just going to be sent to the schools and I think it can be framed in a way where he's not casting dispersions on the company, but pointing out that the flawed system is incentivizing the big players in the market to file patents without much merit and over-litigating.

I think a concern with this PS, if there is one, is not to come off like you feel like you're going to single-handedly reform the patent process like an intellectual property superman. I think that may come off as a bit naive, which would be at odds with what I feel is probably a pretty grounded theme that seems based on legitimate concern.


Not for public consumption? You're posting this stuff in public right here.

jcarsen
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Re: Possible idea: software patents?

Postby jcarsen » Wed Sep 28, 2011 9:42 am

Setting aside for the moment all of the issues people have raised above, this isn't the strongest concept for a personal statement primarily because it doesn't reveal a lot about you as a person--it talks about some of your ideas and experience, but I think the heart of it is more "idea I have" rather than "who I am."

Also, it can sometimes backfire to talk in your PS about your intention to go into a specific area of the law; people change their minds on this all the time once they actually get to law school, and the law schools know this.

Best,
Jen Carsen
Law School Statement Editor
http://www.spam.com

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TommyK
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Re: Possible idea: software patents?

Postby TommyK » Wed Sep 28, 2011 10:07 am

redsox wrote:Not for public consumption? You're posting this stuff in public right here.


He posted a general idea for a personal statement. The concern was burning bridges by casting dispersions on his employer for being a patent troll. I didn't feel this was something worth worrying about because the chance of somebody from his company stumbling upon the idea for a PS, linking it to him, getting in a huff, and harboring ill will to OP and actually being in a position to leverage that ill will to hurt him professionally is possible I guess, it's probably not very likely. So yeah, this is public (I guess), but if you're worried about that, you're way more risk-averse than is reasonable.

dani_burhop
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Re: Possible idea: software patents?

Postby dani_burhop » Wed Sep 28, 2011 10:26 am

I have to disagree with this. I get enough about who you are as a person from this topic. I've seen many successful personal statements that were focused on what drives a person, or how a person thinks; I've found that these go over well in the T14. Best, Dani

jcarsen wrote:Setting aside for the moment all of the issues people have raised above, this isn't the strongest concept for a personal statement primarily because it doesn't reveal a lot about you as a person--it talks about some of your ideas and experience, but I think the heart of it is more "idea I have" rather than "who I am."

Also, it can sometimes backfire to talk in your PS about your intention to go into a specific area of the law; people change their minds on this all the time once they actually get to law school, and the law schools know this.

Best,
Jen Carsen
Law School Statement Editor
http://www.lawschoolstatementeditor.com

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TommyK
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Re: Possible idea: software patents?

Postby TommyK » Wed Sep 28, 2011 1:13 pm

dani_burhop wrote:I have to disagree with this. I get enough about who you are as a person from this topic. I've seen many successful personal statements that were focused on what drives a person, or how a person thinks; I've found that these go over well in the T14. Best, Dani



Agreed, but Jen's purpose here is to drum up business for her enterprise. I doubt that is accomplished by telling people that they're on the right path. If the PS is written in the fashion of "this is what is wrong with the patent process", then yeah, I agree with jcarsen. However, if it's written (and I believe this is the direction OP was going to go) as "I have a tech background and I was inspired to go into patent attorney after seeing the change I could make", it says much more about the person.

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redsox
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Re: Possible idea: software patents?

Postby redsox » Thu Sep 29, 2011 7:47 pm

TommyK wrote:
redsox wrote:Not for public consumption? You're posting this stuff in public right here.


He posted a general idea for a personal statement. The concern was burning bridges by casting dispersions on his employer for being a patent troll. I didn't feel this was something worth worrying about because the chance of somebody from his company stumbling upon the idea for a PS, linking it to him, getting in a huff, and harboring ill will to OP and actually being in a position to leverage that ill will to hurt him professionally is possible I guess, it's probably not very likely. So yeah, this is public (I guess), but if you're worried about that, you're way more risk-averse than is reasonable.


Casting what?

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TommyK
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Re: Possible idea: software patents?

Postby TommyK » Fri Sep 30, 2011 9:20 am

redsox wrote:Casting what?


whoops, meant aspersions. Typed it quickly. Thanks, dick.

Hey, nice epic collapse at the end of this season.

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redsox
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Re: Possible idea: software patents?

Postby redsox » Tue Oct 04, 2011 7:22 pm

TommyK wrote:
redsox wrote:Casting what?


whoops, meant aspersions. Typed it quickly. Thanks, dick.

Hey, nice epic collapse at the end of this season.


That's just uncalled for...




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