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Mr. Barbin Goes to Washington: Notes from the Field

by: Luke Barbin, CEO

As November draws to a close, I pause to reflect and share with you some valuable things we learned this past month in our travels from the high plains, hill country, and coastal regions of Texas to our nation’s capital.

Stop 1: Houston, TX

As we continue to demonstrate the technology capabilities of our new research platform Limestone, we continue to find attorneys who envision using our platform to enhance their business development capabilities among other things.  Outstanding research is great.  Icing on the cake is helping attorneys get information to achieve a competitive edge in landing new clients and succeeding in client pitches.

Stop 2: Austin, TX

Earlier this month we sponsored one of those rare IP events in our hometown - the UT Law CLE Annual Advanced Patent Law Institute.  Definitely the shortest distance I’ve ever traveled to attend an IP conference.  Some interesting tidbits:

-Corporations desire to provide competitive technical intelligence (derived from patent publications) to their R&D teams, but they don’t want to run the risk of allegations of willful infringement by being made aware of patents of others.  Key challenge is collecting and anonymizing the knowledge from patent publications for presentation and digestion without presenting too much patent-identifying or claim-identifying information.  More on our plans to address this soon…

-IPRs are still big business, and so is the prior art research required to attack some patents at the PTAB.  Budgets are reasonable, but the stakes are increasing, perhaps indicating a trend of higher settlement values and damages awards. Headwinds turning to tailwinds.

Stop 3: Waco, TX

On a road trip to DFW, we stopped for dinner with my folks in Waco, right next door to the Magnolia Silos of TV’s Fixer Upper (sorry no celebrity sightings).  My parents still don’t understand what patents are, the promise Limestone holds for an entire industry, or even what I do for a living day-to-day.  They love me, nonetheless.

Stop 4: Plano, TX (man is it windy there)

 We were lucky enough to sponsor the CAIL 56th Annual Conference on Intellectual Property Law at the last minute this year. What a win for us.

-Speaking with prospective clients, we continue to meet with skepticism that a patent research firm can be consistently good, much less compete against offshoring.  Damn you, Harry Jolly! I do hesitate to repeat the 1990’s consulting firm pitches, you know, “It’s all about People, Process, and Technology.”  But there is a lot of truth in that ideology (it made them hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue delivering value to their clients).  But the proof is in the pudding, I always tell them.  References don’t hurt either, please ask for ours; we’re a bit proud of our references.

-There are some big corporations who have figured the licensing and monetization game out, but there are many more who suffer from internal political challenges that have prevented them from successfully monetizing their portfolios.  We would like to see the friction reduced here as there are a lot of valuable assets lying dormant in corporate coffers. More on our plans to address this soon…

Stop 5: Washington, D.C., the USPTO heartland

We arrived in Washington just in time for the first snow storm of the season - brrr.  Always love visiting Washington.  The folks you meet there are so close to the IP action, that I get a different vibe from practitioners in D.C. - passion, insight, and most importantly, optimism about the IP industry.

-Patent research success is great for business.  Both for our outside counsel clients who we helped succeed and for the end clients that benefit from those favorable outcomes.

-The U.S. Patent Office finally seems hell bent on using its vast resources to find and foster technology that can help increase patent quality and examiner efficiency.  Kudos to Director Iancu and team.  We’d like the opportunity to help; we’re responding to your RFIs as fast as our fingers will type…

Stop 6: Amarillo, TX (the wind, my goodness: “Plano, hold my beer…”)

Ah, Thanksgiving, finally, on a 2,000-acre family cattle farm at the West Texas crossroads of hither and yon near Bushland, TX . One small farmhouse, 10 grandchildren playing, 10-15 adults at any given time, home cooking, a baby calf with a broken leg that needed mending, and a long weekend with no talk of patents or politics….just football (go Bears, Cowboys, and, especially, Aggies - you are STRICTLY forbidden to go 7 overtimes ever again). 

I am refreshed for December and planning our push towards EoY and the Holidays. It is my sincere holiday wish that Techson has turned around some of that outsourced research skepticism here in 2018; we plan to do even better in 2019.

BlogTom HochstatterPatents, Texas