Step Five: Start your own firm and practice law the way you think it should be done. This was not something Jim and I discussed. However, his example and genuine enthusiasm for his profession made me want to set the same example for others.
Step Three: Get a law degree. I attended law school at night while I was an examiner during the day. I attended The National Law Center at the George Washington University and earned my Juris Doctor degree in 1987.
My client had retained James T. Gambrell as an expert on patent law. Jim would later testify as to the accuracy and authenticity of the underwater images taken on that trip, which he could do as he accompanied me on each dive and was by my side as each frame was taken from 6 to 140 feet down. Jim accepted responsibility for each roll of film as I removed it from the camera in the boat after each dive.
Each day, we took a pontoon to and from the dive sites. I used that time to quiz Jim about patent law, how he became interested in it, and what someone not yet out of high school would have to do to work in the field of patents. Jim was patient with me and enthusiastically answered all my questions, I was hooked. Together we laid out a plan.
Step One: Get a degree in Chemical Engineering. I graduated in 1982 from Iowa State.
Step Two: Join the USPTO as an examiner. I became an examiner in Art Unit 116 (supervisor Delbert Gantz) working with inventions in synfuels, and petroleum processing. Later, I joined Art Unit 113 (supervisor John Doll) to examine applications in catalysts for hydrocracking and petroleum product polishing.
The patent was US 3,063,189 and it taught:
Step Four: Join a law firm or series of firms that would provide training in all aspects of IP law – writing and prosecuting patent applications to issue, licensing those patents with agreements that protect the IP in a good business deal, and substantive, procedural and psychological aspects of IP litigation. I left the USPTO just before law school graduation and joined a patent, trademark and copyright boutique firm on the eve of trial. As a clerk/associate, I learned litigation from entry level legal research, motion assembly and briefing. I was mentored and trained by many through my career as I returned the favors and mentoring extended to me.
Patent law first intrigued me while working on a boat in the Caribbean on crystal clear, blue waters. As one of the few underwater photographers in northwest Iowa at the time, this assignment set the stage for my professional career. Our assignment –
take pictures of fishing lines with various color treatments to determine the accuracy and enablement of whether fluorescent dyes in fishing lines are activated underwater in fishing lines.