My Lawyer’s Life
I have practiced intellectual property law for nearly fifty years primarily litigating patents, copyrights, and trademarks.
I have a BS degree in Aeronautical Engineering from Purdue University in 1958 (sitting next to Gus Grissom in one class) and a JD from the University of Washington law school in Seattle, Washington. I worked part-time in the Boeing Airplane Company (as it was known at the time) patent department while attending classes in around 1960 to 1963.
That employment led to my participation in a fascinating patent infringement suit brought by an Italian meteorologist, Maurice Garbel. Mr. Garbel asserted that he had designed and patented an airplane wing design that would not stall under any conditions. He accused the Boeing 707 as having adopted the wing design. In the course of preparing for trial, outside counsel, who I was assisting, convinced the company that he and I needed to experience a stall to be prepared to convince a jury that the 707 did in fact stall. We were permitted to use a 707 with a seasoned test pilot crew and flew over Puget Sound at about 30,000 feet. My co-counsel and I were in the cockpit, strapped in standing up against the rear wall. The pilot then pulled back on the stick, the stick started to shake (a safety precaution to alert the pilot), the shaking became more and more violent as the nose came up until suddenly the plane became eerily quiet and dived straight down. From my position I could only see blue water. It dove down for an hour and a half – that is what a steep dive in a commercial jet which has stalled feels like. Of course it was a few minutes.
The rest of my career, though litigating many interesting cases, was less exciting.
Patent suits last longer than most marriages. Patent law is extremely abstruse and the Supreme Court is not very helpful. The technology can be formidable as you would expect since an invention is by definition an advance in the technology, that is, it is at the leading (or some say bleeding edge). I have never wanted for intellectual challenge.
I have been interested in the conflict, or not, between religion and science as a believer and while I am not a scientist I have found that with some diligence an approximate understanding is achievable. When it comes to quantum theory, I am not at a great disadvantage because no one, according to Richard Feynman, understands what is going on. (There is no cause and effect?)
Nor am I a theologian or even well-versed in the Judaeo-Christian Bible. And frankly, some aspects of religion are as mysterious to me as dark matter and black holes. I go to church steadily. I feel inexplicably content to reflect on my life and my relationship to my God as I engage in prayer. I am convinced that religion is the source of all morality. I cannot understand why my God permits hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes and Hitler.
I have quit skiing, playing tennis, swimming, surfing, volleyball, mountain hiking, bicycling, and running. I started to take horseback riding lessons in my seventies after my knee and hip was replaced – my orthopedic surgeon still will not speak to me.