Q&A with Patent lawyer Bill Loginov
Legislation to change and update the nation’s patent laws has been lost in the headlines about the economy. But patent attorney William Loginov of Concord has been keeping a close eye on the legislation, the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act, which was signed into law last month by President Obama.The act is “the most significant change in U.S. patent law in more than 50 years and will no doubt have a profound effect in the way businesses and entrepreneurial individuals pursue patent protections for their innovations,” wrote Loginov in the recent newsletter of the Dartmouth Entrepreneurial Network. “While some aspects of the act may be welcome changes for the inventive community, the majority of the act promises a negative impact in innovation, particularly for smaller, less well-funded entities.”Loginov’s patent and intellectual property firm, Loginov & Associates PLLC, has offices in Concord and Washington, D.C. The four-person firm, which celebrated its third anniversary this year, fits Loginov’s desire to be small, flexible and provide value for clients, which include Fortune 1000 companies, small university startups and even up-and-coming businesses in New Zealand. On the website of one of his clients — Gyrobike, founded by four Dartmouth engineering grads — Loginov was lauded as a “rock star” for getting its patents issued.Loginov, a graduate of Dartmouth and Cornell Law School, has been a patent attorney for more than two decades.Q. What’s the fun in patent law?A. I studied engineering at Dartmouth and had always been interested in computing and robotics. My dad was an IBM guy. This is my love, and it’s most exciting when I can get my hands around an invention and to write an application for it. The best is when you get the good news from the patent office. It’s a big deal and great day for our clients, something you want to shout from rooftops and have investors hear.I’ve been lucky to work for clients such as Cisco, Novell, Apple, DEC and other companies in Silicon Valley and the Route 128 beltway. I’m also excited about the new generation of innovators and entrepreneurs that I’ve been able to help. I donated my time to help Gyrobike secure their patents.Q. What’s the major drawback to the new patent law?A. The “first to file” provision clearly benefits larger corporations who have the in-house resources and the ability to hire outside firms to get ahead and file first. I believe this will hurt smaller companies and entrepreneurs because they will have to use time and financial resources to ensure their invention is first in line by filing for a patent, possibly long before it’s even been tested or developed.The current law allows inventors to invent first and file second.Q. What do you tell potential clients that approach you?A. For the most part, we are fairly selective. Most of them have had some form of angel or venture capital funding and are privately held. The most important question I have to them is, “I know what your intention is, but do you have a business plan?”Q. Have you met the goals you set when you opened the practice more than three years ago as a recession was kicking in?A. I assumed I’d have an ongoing practice. Given the economy and the number of clients I kept and new higher-profile clients that we’ve secured, I’d say I’m ahead of where I thought I’d be.One thing is clear — if I had tried to do this as sole practitioner, I would have gone crazy.Q. Why did you decide to start your own firm in New Hampshire?A. I was managing partner at Cesari & McKenna (Boston) for a decade. At the end, we were fighting a losing battle to control costs for office space and staff while still providing great value to our clients. I wanted to locate myself closer to my home in Londonderry and considered Concord was a good location because of its proximity to Dartmouth, where there is a lot of entrepreneurial and innovation activity.We are also close to the University of New Hampshire Law School, which specializes in intellectual property law. I also wanted a small-sized firm that would treat our clients as if they are our only client.Q. What are the characteristics of a good patent attorney?A. You have to be smart, a bit of an egghead but be able to grasp new concepts you might not have even considered before. You have to understand the technical side, of course, to be a good litigator and to prosecute patents, you need to be able to think quick and define something that is brand new.The pace of change is so fast that you have to be able to see how the technology works today and how it will fit in tomorrow. You also need to be able to write and communicate and that’s something you can only teach somewhat. Great engineers often can’t write to save their lives.