Patent Attorneys in Arkansas Find Research is Key

by Robert Bell  on Monday, Nov. 1, 2010 12:00 am  

Arkansas may not be Silicon Valley, but there is enough research and invention coming out of the Natural State to keep a small cadre of patent attorneys busy.

"There are a number of patent lawyers here that I think are very capable, and whenever we have a conflict of interest in a case, we have no problem whatsoever sending them to another local patent firm," said Gary Speed, founder of Speed Law Firm of Little Rock, which practices patent, copyright and trademark law.

(Click here to see a list of patents awarded to Arkansans in 2010.)

The website for the U.S. Patent & Trademark office lists 38 active patent lawyers in the state. By contrast, the Arkansas Judiciary website lists more than 3,100 attorneys just in Little Rock and North Little Rock.

(Click here to read about the backlog at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.) 

In addition to passing the state bar examination, patent attorneys must pass the federal patent bar exam, which proves that they have the background necessary to draft patents.

Much of the patent work in Arkansas is related to the research being done within the University of Arkansas system, including the Fayetteville and Little Rock campuses, as well as the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, said Charles Dougherty, partner with Wright Lindsey & Jennings LLP of Little Rock. That work is reflected in 22 patents awarded so far in 2010 and assigned to UA, UAMS and Arkansas State University. (See list, Page 21.)

Several Arkansas patent attorneys told Arkansas Business that their caseloads were made up largely of work for campus research and businesses, as opposed to the shade-tree Edison who builds a better mousetrap and earns an early retirement from it. Several said they couldn't get specific about the patents they were currently working on because of confidentiality agreements.

"Generally, technology is more and more becoming the core of small businesses, and the people who really make money off a patent are building a business around it," Speed said. "A lot of times it deals with industrial processes or things that aren't too sexy to talk about or to look at, but it's the way people make their money in running their business."

As far as recent patent trends, nanotechnology is one of the major emerging fields, both in Arkansas and around the world, said David Pieper, principal of Keisling & Pieper PLC, a Fayetteville firm.

Both Keisling & Pieper and Wright Lindsey & Jennings have represented the UA system, which has a nanotechnology center in Little Rock. Speed, who specializes in patent, trademark and copyright litigation, represents another side to the practice and has litigated against the UA - and other large organizations - often on behalf of individual inventors. However, his partner in the firm, Kyla Aycock, does handle patent applications.




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