How is Lauson & Tarver different from other small I.P. firms?
Bob Lauson: We truly strive to create value, initially providing an objective assessment of I.P. related issues, and then becoming zealous but reasonable advocates for our clients. We communicate well with clients so they understand benefits and risks associated with decisions related to their I.P. This enables us to deliver results which meet or exceed expectations.
Edwin Tarver: I believe the most distinguishing characteristic between our firm and other small I.P. firms is the spirit of collaboration we bring to our work, within the firm and with our clients. In addition to our focus on a client’s particular I.P. matter at hand, we also help integrate intellectual property into a larger business context to derive the greatest value from I.P. assets.
How and why did you get involved with patent law?
Bob Lauson: Prior to law school I worked as an engineer for major Southern California aerospace companies, and although doing arguably important work it was focused on a small part of these big projects. So I sought more interesting work with greater responsibility. Being a patent attorney enables me to make a difference in obtaining and enforcing patents, trademarks, etc. for small companies.
Edwin Tarver: Although somewhat counterintuitive, I found the concept of non-physical “intellectual” property intriguing even as a 1L in my law school property class. Nuanced reasoning is required to define copyrights, trademarks and patents in a legal context and presents the type of challenge I enjoy. Turning a client’s creation into a legal set of rights involves a kind of intellectual alchemy. Using language as the tool to do it makes it fun.
Originally I became involved in intellectual property in Law School, choosing electives relating to entertainment law. I shifted my focus to a broader study of intellectual property in my second year as a clerk for a small IP law firm here in Los Angeles. Although my practice covers all areas of I.P., having a background in both Science and English made patents a perfect fit.
What do you find most and least satisfying about your work?
Bob Lauson: The opportunities to right wrongs, to turn around a situation where our client was taken advantage of, to get economic reward for a client who created significant intellectual property, to stop an infringer or defeat a frivolous infringement claim, etc. Occasionally frustrating is dealing with obstructionist opposing attorneys, and abusers of the legal system who sometimes get away with it.
Edwin Tarver: The most satisfying aspect of this type of work is holding a finished product and being able to look back over the course of development to the beginning when, sometimes only as a sketch, an inventor brought an idea to the office. The least satisfying aspects are the inevitable unfavorable search results and competitors having already developed what a client thought to be a new idea.
What outside interests do you have?
Bob Lauson: For physical fitness I am a badminton player and a member of the Board of Directors for our local badminton club. Weekly I play chess with a group of guys who have been meeting at a now retired doctor’s house for 35+years. I also have two amazing, young daughters.
Edwin Tarver: Outside our I.P. practice, I enjoy local history as an avocation, and can often be found combing through L.A. city maps and records. If I’m not browsing through photo archives, I can usually be found riding my motorcycle in the Los Padres or Angeles Crest.
What trends do you foresee in the area of IP?
Bob Lauson: In general, particularly regarding patents, life has become more difficult in recent years. Certainty or the Patent Court’s desire to clarify boundaries of such rights has suffered. But still there is much opportunity, in protecting one’s invention, so if successful there will be some defense against knock-offs. Similarly a catchy trademark or slogan can greatly help market one’s products, and registering copyrighted material is relatively easy and provides great benefits. We still have many useful tools in our toolbox.
Edwin Tarver: As I write this, we await the Supreme Court’s decision in In re Bilski, which is set to transform the patent landscape as it applies to methods. If recent cases are any indication, the courts seem to be reining in what, over much of the 20th Century, was an ever expanding view of patent rights. Perhaps the recent explosion of applications for computer-based method inventions triggered the reversal. I anticipate the USPTO and courts will continue to restrict patent holders’ ability to enforce utility rights until a substantial body of case law develops, defining patent eligible subject matter with more particularity. Ironically, as rights diminish for utility patent holders, copyright, trademark and design patent protection have arguably strengthened.