Patent Litigation

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SOCRATiC
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Patent Litigation

Postby SOCRATiC » Thu Mar 10, 2011 10:22 pm

I am a law school hopeful; have already taken the LSATs, but trying to weigh in my options. Considering the terrible job market, I'm wondering if it's even worth it for me to go to law school. The only reason why I'm still considering law is because I'm simply interested in the field of law.

If I am to pursue a law degree, my ideal practice area would by in IP (naturally).

Would my experience in the design and analysis of thousands of lines of code help at all in copyrights? Or is this experience somewhat negligible? Since I really haven't studied law, I'm not exactly sure how the copyright litigation stuff works when it comes to code documents.

Thanks for the help.

Edit: This sort of shifted into a general Patent Attorney prospects for a CS major. Any input/comments would be awesome.
Last edited by SOCRATiC on Mon Mar 14, 2011 10:42 am, edited 2 times in total.

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SOCRATiC
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Re: 2yr Exp. Software Engineer = Help Copyright law Employment?

Postby SOCRATiC » Thu Mar 10, 2011 11:11 pm

As a bump, I'd also like to say that I'm studying for the Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH), which is pretty much one of the main vendor neutral certificates for those who are interested in computer security and penetration testing.

But I'm assuming there's really little business in cyber security suits. Just some extra info.

09042014
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Re: 2yr Exp. Software Engineer = Help Copyright law Employment?

Postby 09042014 » Thu Mar 10, 2011 11:14 pm

SOCRATiC wrote:I am a law school hopeful; have already taken the LSATs, but trying to weigh in my options. Considering the terrible job market, I'm wondering if it's even worth it for me to go to law school. The only reason why I'm still considering law is because I'm simply interested in the field of law.

If I am to pursue a law degree, my ideal practice area would by in IP (naturally).

Would my experience in the design and analysis of thousands of lines of code help at all in copyrights? Or is this experience somewhat negligible? Since I really haven't studied law, I'm not exactly sure how the copyright litigation stuff works when it comes to code documents.

Thanks for the help.


It helps a lot more in patents than copyright.

UCLAtransfer
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Re: 2yr Exp. Software Engineer = Help Copyright law Employment?

Postby UCLAtransfer » Thu Mar 10, 2011 11:17 pm

I think being eligible to sit for the patent bar is the main thing here.

Substantively, the fact that you have worked on a lot of code in a software engineering context wouldn't necessarily help you in copyright law specifically, but perhaps moreso in the patent law arena. (Especially in terms of the complexity of the underlying patents that end up as the basis of litigation.)

In any case, having a demonstrable ability to understand synthesize difficult/complex material such as code would be a big plus overall in getting into IP.

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SOCRATiC
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Re: 2yr Exp. Software Engineer = Help Copyright law Employment?

Postby SOCRATiC » Thu Mar 10, 2011 11:35 pm

UCLAtransfer wrote:I think being eligible to sit for the patent bar is the main thing here.

Substantively, the fact that you have worked on a lot of code in a software engineering context wouldn't necessarily help you in copyright law specifically, but perhaps moreso in the patent law arena. (Especially in terms of the complexity of the underlying patents that end up as the basis of litigation.)

In any case, having a demonstrable ability to understand synthesize difficult/complex material such as code would be a big plus overall in getting into IP.


But guys, correct me if I'm wrong, please:

I've spoken with some of my co-workers about "patents" and stuff; they sort of said (without much certainty) that code for software really can't be Patented, since they're just word "documents" that provide instructions. Again, I have no clue about any of this, so please correct me if I'm wrong.

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SOCRATiC
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Re: 2yr Exp. Software Engineer = Help Copyright law Employment?

Postby SOCRATiC » Thu Mar 10, 2011 11:35 pm

Desert Fox wrote:
SOCRATiC wrote:I am a law school hopeful; have already taken the LSATs, but trying to weigh in my options. Considering the terrible job market, I'm wondering if it's even worth it for me to go to law school. The only reason why I'm still considering law is because I'm simply interested in the field of law.

If I am to pursue a law degree, my ideal practice area would by in IP (naturally).

Would my experience in the design and analysis of thousands of lines of code help at all in copyrights? Or is this experience somewhat negligible? Since I really haven't studied law, I'm not exactly sure how the copyright litigation stuff works when it comes to code documents.

Thanks for the help.


It helps a lot more in patents than copyright.


Could you explain just like a three sentence scenario where it might help?

*Okay, I apologize: I should have done more research - It looks like I can actually sit for the Patent Bar since I have a Computer Science degree.. hrmm.. Sounds pretty exciting.

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Re: 2yr Exp. Software Engineer = Help Copyright law Employment?

Postby 09042014 » Thu Mar 10, 2011 11:50 pm

SOCRATiC wrote:
UCLAtransfer wrote:I think being eligible to sit for the patent bar is the main thing here.

Substantively, the fact that you have worked on a lot of code in a software engineering context wouldn't necessarily help you in copyright law specifically, but perhaps moreso in the patent law arena. (Especially in terms of the complexity of the underlying patents that end up as the basis of litigation.)

In any case, having a demonstrable ability to understand synthesize difficult/complex material such as code would be a big plus overall in getting into IP.


But guys, correct me if I'm wrong, please:

I've spoken with some of my co-workers about "patents" and stuff; they sort of said (without much certainty) that code for software really can't be Patented, since they're just word "documents" that provide instructions. Again, I have no clue about any of this, so please correct me if I'm wrong.


Yea they can be patented.

turbotong
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Re: 2yr Exp. Software Engineer = Help Copyright law Employment?

Postby turbotong » Thu Mar 10, 2011 11:56 pm

Do a google search.
Yes, they can technically be patented. However, that area is not well defined. People are hesitant to patent software because nobody wants to really approve it. Different government bodies have different views, but I think that the Supreme Court has the highest authority and has refused to grant the major ones that they came across. As a result, software patents are very weak.

UCLAtransfer
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Re: 2yr Exp. Software Engineer = Help Copyright law Employment?

Postby UCLAtransfer » Fri Mar 11, 2011 12:31 am

The thing about copyright is that it is normally considered "soft" IP, because it doesn't really require the type of insanely technical knowledge/background/understanding that patent law requires. Mostly, looking at software in the copyright infringement context doesn't require that much depth into the underlying code, but instead centers around whether two programs are "substantially similar" in the way that they look, operate, etc.

As someone mentioned above, patenting software is an issue that is somewhat unclear in the courts right now, but the type of knowledge that you hold from having a CS degree and working in software engineering help give you the technical know-how to work on cases that do deal with technology/engineering heavy patents. If you have ever actually looked at a patent on anything technical, you will see how having a CS/EE/Chem/Physics-type degree is almost essential in ensuring someone has the requisite experience to handle the work.

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Re: 2yr Exp. Software Engineer = Help Copyright law Employment?

Postby SOCRATiC » Fri Mar 11, 2011 1:09 am

UCLAtransfer wrote:The thing about copyright is that it is normally considered "soft" IP, because it doesn't really require the type of insanely technical knowledge/background/understanding that patent law requires. Mostly, looking at software in the copyright infringement context doesn't require that much depth into the underlying code, but instead centers around whether two programs are "substantially similar" in the way that they look, operate, etc.

As someone mentioned above, patenting software is an issue that is somewhat unclear in the courts right now, but the type of knowledge that you hold from having a CS degree and working in software engineering help give you the technical know-how to work on cases that do deal with technology/engineering heavy patents. If you have ever actually looked at a patent on anything technical, you will see how having a CS/EE/Chem/Physics-type degree is almost essential in ensuring someone has the requisite experience to handle the work.


Wow - thanks a lot for the input.

-The preceding threads state that the courts are somewhat indecisive about patenting software; do you think that this is subject to change within the next decade?
-Are the employment opportunities for patent lawyers only marginally higher than those who come from non-technical backgrounds? I'm a little worried, since there are a lot of people who come from technical backgrounds and what not. Once I get things a little straightened out, I'm pretty much down with going to law school.
-Should I be taking some chemistry courses as an independent study?? By reading your post, I sorta got the idea that patent attorneys with CS backgrounds could also do some legal work in technical fields outside of their expertise (chem/physics).

tecumseh
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Re: 2yr Exp. Software Engineer = Help Copyright law Employment?

Postby tecumseh » Fri Mar 11, 2011 2:50 am

As someone with a simliar background (but slightly longer work experience) who is now a 1L in law school, I will give my 2 cents.

First, you should check that your CS degree qualifies you for the patent bar. As I understand it, not all CS degrees are created alike and you should read the fine print to see where you stand. Of course, the patent bar is only necessary if you want to patent prosecution so if you want to do patent litigation, that's not even necessary. It's something for you to think about...

As far as I know and as people have mentioned software copyright law is not a big practice area, I think mostly for practical reasons. If you are interested in IP related to software, business method software patents are the way to go. As people have noted the validity of such patents is somewhat tenuous, but I feel like that they will exist in one form or another in the future. I feel like technology innovation has been moving away from hardware towards software for some time now. With increasing limits to Moore's law and automated circuit/chip design, software has become the productive driving force behind products and new startups. At the software company I worked for, we had a strong focus on intellectual property and I feel in general you can find a strong emphasis on that at other leading software companies like Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, etc...It's true a lot of times these patents don't seem to really protect much and overall can be empty in terms of the innovation it describes. However, there's a lot of work that goes into software designs and processes that in some aspects are worth patenting. Furthermore, given the accelerated pace of technological change in the software space, I feel like software patents aren't used to protect IP from true newcomers per se, as in general those companies lack money to be sued and also can easily get around the patent if necessary. I think our company maintained it's patent portfolio largely because other large companies do so as well. Thus a lot of times, companies will use their patent portfolio as a defense and bartering chip to prevent themselves from getting sued. Anyway, as I said, as software becomes the more dominating innovative force in our leading companies, I think the importance of software patents will only increase.

As for other areas of IP, from what I understand that some of them (e.g. Bio) require advanced degrees for patent prosecution. However, I heard the requirements for specialization in a lot of other areas aren't as strict and just having a science background will give you right mindset to do work in those areas.

Finally, I feel the decision to go to law school for someone with your kind of background shouldn't be made lightly, especially if you don't end up being accepted at a top-tier school. A good software engineer can command a good salary, job security, work in different parts of the country, and have a very relaxed and flexible work life. Most legal jobs lack a lot of these attributes and you will be working in a service industry catering to the whims of your clients instead of the research and development industry producing actual products; as such, you should really ask yourself whether that's right for you, especially given the opportunity costs and tuition costs of going to law school.

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SOCRATiC
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Re: 2yr Exp. Software Engineer = Help Copyright law Employment?

Postby SOCRATiC » Fri Mar 11, 2011 12:15 pm

That was some really nice advice. Thanks a lot for all of the insight.

But answers to my questions just seems to create a bunch of other questions... does any body know of any informative posts on patent attorneys?



Despite the fact that I qualify for the patent bar (I've confirmed this on the website; despite the fact that my CS program isn't in the list of accredited programs, my coursework is sufficient - Option 4 in Category B), I have a feeling that engineering and hard sciences are the fields that are in demand. If I only have experience/knowledge in software development and business processes (some operations research), would I not be able to work on cases that heavily involve other scientific areas?

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Re: 2yr Exp. Software Engineer = Help Copyright law Employment?

Postby TheTopBloke » Fri Mar 11, 2011 12:17 pm

Honestly, no, it won't.

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Re: 2yr Exp. Software Engineer = Help Copyright law Employment?

Postby paratactical » Fri Mar 11, 2011 12:19 pm

.
Last edited by paratactical on Wed Feb 13, 2013 11:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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SOCRATiC
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Re: 2yr Exp. Software Engineer = Help Copyright law Employment?

Postby SOCRATiC » Fri Mar 11, 2011 12:36 pm

TheTopBloke wrote:Honestly, no, it won't.


Are you saying that it won't limit me to strictly software-related problems?

paratactical wrote:I work in the IP litigation department of a firm and 80%+ of the cases we handle involve source code and focus on source code review. There are a few medical cases, but even those involve source code.


Okay; so that helps me feel a little more reassured about my potential to apply my technical knowledge to some legal department. But does the department that you work in handle an unusual amount of software-related projects? Some of the threads on this post give me the impression that software IP isn't all that high in demand. Thanks*

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Re: 2yr Exp. Software Engineer = Help Copyright law Employment?

Postby TheTopBloke » Fri Mar 11, 2011 12:37 pm

I'm answering your original question. No, it won't help you.

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Re: 2yr Exp. Software Engineer = Help Copyright law Employment?

Postby paratactical » Fri Mar 11, 2011 12:43 pm

.
Last edited by paratactical on Wed Feb 13, 2013 11:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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SOCRATiC
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Re: 2yr Exp. Software Engineer = Help Copyright law Employment?

Postby SOCRATiC » Fri Mar 11, 2011 12:57 pm

TheTopBloke wrote:I'm answering your original question. No, it won't help you.


Please elaborate.

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Re: 2yr Exp. Software Engineer = Help Copyright law Employment?

Postby zreinhar » Fri Mar 11, 2011 1:10 pm

Either I missed it, or you didn't specificy what area of IP you want to go in to. For someone who has a technical degree that is typically prosecution. There aren't a whole lot of SW patents per se. It's more algorithms. It's also confusing as hell. I'm a fresh patent examiner at the PTO who has some FW/EE work experience and got put into the image analysis group which is almost entirely software-type patents. (more algorithms though) The patenting of these algorithms leads to the cases that paratactical probably sees where a company sues another company because they are infringing on their pantented algorithm using a different source code, etc.

So back to your original question. SW exp can help, but most firms will want an EE for prosecution because they have enough software know how to write a patent for an algorithm as well as semiconductors, transmission lines, etc. (more bang for the buck) If you want to go into litigation, it might help, but then again most litigators don't even have tech backgrounds and went to Top law schools.

Also as mentioned I would be very sure you want to go down this road, a SWE can have a pretty nice QoL working in SW. So I guess it's really up to you.

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Re: 2yr Exp. Software Engineer = Help Copyright law Employment?

Postby florentine » Fri Mar 11, 2011 3:22 pm

SOCRATiC wrote:
UCLAtransfer wrote:I think being eligible to sit for the patent bar is the main thing here.

Substantively, the fact that you have worked on a lot of code in a software engineering context wouldn't necessarily help you in copyright law specifically, but perhaps moreso in the patent law arena. (Especially in terms of the complexity of the underlying patents that end up as the basis of litigation.)

In any case, having a demonstrable ability to understand synthesize difficult/complex material such as code would be a big plus overall in getting into IP.


But guys, correct me if I'm wrong, please:

I've spoken with some of my co-workers about "patents" and stuff; they sort of said (without much certainty) that code for software really can't be Patented, since they're just word "documents" that provide instructions. Again, I have no clue about any of this, so please correct me if I'm wrong.


Didn't you hear Oracle is suing Google over Java and Android code??

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Re: 2yr Exp. Software Engineer =Help Patent Attorney Employment?

Postby weee » Fri Mar 11, 2011 11:36 pm

I see a lot of people downplaying the importance of a tech degree for litigation, but a LOT of firms have specific patent litigation departments. In these departments, I probably can't guess a totally accurate number but I would feel comfortable saying at least 75% of the people in that practice area have tech degrees.

Patent litigators benefit from understanding complex subject matter too. And proficiency with software is very important. I started to prepare for the patent bar before law school but once I got here and I started seeing what kinds of things I like and don't like, I feel like IP Litigation is a good fit, and having that tech degree gets my resume immediate attention.

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Re: 2yr Exp. Software Engineer =Help Patent Attorney Employment?

Postby 09042014 » Sat Mar 12, 2011 1:10 am

weee wrote:I see a lot of people downplaying the importance of a tech degree for litigation, but a LOT of firms have specific patent litigation departments. In these departments, I probably can't guess a totally accurate number but I would feel comfortable saying at least 75% of the people in that practice area have tech degrees.

Patent litigators benefit from understanding complex subject matter too. And proficiency with software is very important. I started to prepare for the patent bar before law school but once I got here and I started seeing what kinds of things I like and don't like, I feel like IP Litigation is a good fit, and having that tech degree gets my resume immediate attention.


It's probably more than 75%. A lot of the non tech patent litigators seem to be people who got into it via general litigation.

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Re: 2yr Exp. Software Engineer = Help Copyright law Employment?

Postby SOCRATiC » Sat Mar 12, 2011 10:54 am

zreinhar wrote:Either I missed it, or you didn't specificy what area of IP you want to go in to. For someone who has a technical degree that is typically prosecution. There aren't a whole lot of SW patents per se. It's more algorithms. It's also confusing as hell. I'm a fresh patent examiner at the PTO who has some FW/EE work experience and got put into the image analysis group which is almost entirely software-type patents. (more algorithms though) The patenting of these algorithms leads to the cases that paratactical probably sees where a company sues another company because they are infringing on their pantented algorithm using a different source code, etc.

So back to your original question. SW exp can help, but most firms will want an EE for prosecution because they have enough software know how to write a patent for an algorithm as well as semiconductors, transmission lines, etc. (more bang for the buck) If you want to go into litigation, it might help, but then again most litigators don't even have tech backgrounds and went to Top law schools.

Also as mentioned I would be very sure you want to go down this road, a SWE can have a pretty nice QoL working in SW. So I guess it's really up to you.


When it comes to whcih field of IP, I'm interested in ANY field that would let me apply (directly) my CS background.

When you say "algorithms", do you believe that the business process type of algorithm is reviewed more frequently than the usual SW algorithms? I've taken a graduate CS course in algorithms and what not, and I feel pretty comfortable about analyzing and understanding them. But what i'm worried about is the Numerical Analysis type algorithms; I really haven't taken any numerical methods coursework, nor do I have any experience in it.

CS isn't really considered a "tech" degree, right? and if physics majors or engineers are capable of accomplishing similar tasks as me (analyzing algorithms) I can pretty much see how my CS degree is virtually worthless for patents. But maybe, just maybe... I have a shot if I get into a good school and end up in a large law firm that has some pretty good software clients.. I still gotta think about this a lil more.

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Re: 2yr Exp. Software Engineer = Help Copyright law Employment?

Postby Julio_El_Chavo » Sat Mar 12, 2011 12:59 pm

TheTopBloke wrote:Honestly, no, it won't.


CR

Patent Prosecution shops only care about (in order of importance):
1) prior prosecution experience (especially experience dealing with Office Actions from the PTO)
2) patent examiner experience (valued slightly less than actual prosecution experience)
3) whether your tech background fits their client needs
4) law school prestige, law school grades, other stuff

they really don't care at all about engineering or other work experience

signed,

2L

09042014
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Re: 2yr Exp. Software Engineer = Help Copyright law Employment?

Postby 09042014 » Sat Mar 12, 2011 3:27 pm

Julio_El_Chavo wrote:
TheTopBloke wrote:Honestly, no, it won't.


CR

Patent Prosecution shops only care about (in order of importance):
1) prior prosecution experience (especially experience dealing with Office Actions from the PTO)
2) patent examiner experience (valued slightly less than actual prosecution experience)
3) whether your tech background fits their client needs
4) law school prestige, law school grades, other stuff

they really don't care at all about engineering or other work experience

signed,

2L


Your conclusion seems to conflict with point 3. C.S. background is fairly in demand is it not?




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