Patent Litigation Weekly has a fascinating article about what tangled webs we — well, not we, but patent lawyers — weave when they become, er, patent rights opportunity entrepreneurs — i.e., patent trolls. In this case, you could call them inbred patent trolls.
The story focuses on the oddly distinct reactions by Fish & Richardson, the fancy patent law shop, to the career choices of two former associates who clearly began trolling while at Fish, and doing so in connection with patents of what appear to be no small interest to Fish clients.
One was fired upon discovery of his “stunning betrayal,” as the firm put it. Another became a client. Why the different treatment? The article doesn’t so much as speculate, much less investigate, on what it suggests is very fishy behavior. Oddly, it ends up bogged down on the fascinating course of litigation over various aspects of 802.11 technology, and the concluding paragraph of the article leaves you wondering if there’s a page jump you missed.
Well, as a former legal journalist and frequent law-firm-ankle-biter myself, but still a lawyer and all that, I can’t help but say this: Just throwing up a “hmmm, interesting distinction” and casting ethical aspersions at a major law firm doesn’t seem good enough for a piece published on Law.com. What ever happened to Steve Brill? (Oh, never mind, sorry I asked.) This ends up reading more like a bloggy item or a throwaway in a law-biz gossip column.
The differing treatment could be based on any of a hundred possible grounds, and almost certainly is. I hold no brief for Fish & Richardson, but that was my reaction to the anticlimactic non-conclusion. The story seemed half-baked. Just. Saying.
Still, take a quick look — it’s worth it to be educated about at least the appearance of impropriety, and the issues you may not have thought about, in the lawyer-to-legal-claim-arbitrageur career path.
Hat tip to Jennifer Stevens of Incisive Media (yeah, the new Law.com people), via theLinkedIn Intellectual Property Professionals group.