Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Joshua Krumholz interviewed on patent reform, janitor's room

On patent reform, Krumholz noted:

The proposal raises serious procedural questions that threaten to further burden already overburdened courts. If the proposal requires judges to act as additional gatekeepers, requiring them to make threshold determinations of appropriate methodology, it is not at all clear that the courts can handle this additional burden. Regardless of the merits of the proposal, the present proposal appears to be placing substantial new burdens on the courts, which will have the ancillary effect of making patent cases even less appealing to certain judges. That lack of appeal could, in turn, affect the manner in which the cases are handled and the ultimate time to disposition. I am not yet convinced that the overall benefits of that provision outweigh the impact of the added complexity.


Although I am primarily in the federal courts, I also practice before state courts. I fully understand the DRI's concerns as I sit in a state court judge's chambers that most closely resemble a converted janitor's room. It is difficult for a jury to understand the importance of dispensing justice in such surroundings. In federal court patent cases, the time to disposition can vary radically between jurisdictions and even within jurisdictions. The Western District of Wisconsin, for example, has become an attractive forum in part because it takes only 10 to 11 months to get to trial. The Eastern District of Virginia, in contrast, was, like east Texas, a rocket docket that similarly became a victim of its own success. To stem the flow of cases, the court now randomly assigns a case to one of three locations, only one of which is a rocket docket. That has slowed the onslaught of patent filings in that district considerably. Other jurisdictions, meanwhile, particularly where the court has a heavy criminal docket, can be appreciably slower. These differences result in a great deal of forum shopping, which is one of the issues being addressed by the proposed legislation now before Congress.

Elsewhere, Sarah Reed was interviewed:

I was general counsel at a technology company for about five years before I went to Charles River Ventures, where I spent eight years. Initially, my role at Charles River was focused on representing their portfolio companies, drawing upon my former general counsel experience. Having built the law department at my former technology company from scratch, I was basically doing what I called the "law department in a box" - the portfolio companies we funded all had the same repetitive, fairly commodity-like legal needs at their inception. For several of our portfolio companies I essentially served as their general counsel, including attending board meetings and taking minutes. After the bubble burst, my job at Charles River transitioned into one more focused on doing deals, overseeing investments and raising funds. The sort of "rapid response" team legal services I had performed for the portfolio companies became less important to the portfolio companies since the rush to market was over. I ended up doing more strategic consulting on legal issues to our portfolio companies, rather than run-of-the-mill things, such as when they had some kind of litigation crisis, HR issue or whenever they were involved in a M & A deal.


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