IP Litigator Philip Mann Named to 2014 Washington Super Lawyers List
Normally we don’t toot our own horn – but we are pleased and honored to announce that our founder Philip P. Mann was recognized in the 2014 Washington Super Lawyers ranking which lists the top attorneys in the state of Washington. The annual Super Lawyers list was featured in the July issue of Seattle Met magazine.
Super Lawyers is a rating service that selects outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained high degrees of peer recognition and professional achievement. The selection process includes independent research, peer nominations and peer evaluations.
Mann is a trial lawyer with more than 30 years of experience litigating patent, trademark, copyright, trade secret and other intellectual property matters. He has broad experience representing clients in jury trials and bench trials before federal and state courts across the country, and in appeals to the Federal Circuit. Mann, who also has a degree in Electrical Engineering, worked in private practice in Chicago, Milwaukee and Seattle before founding the Mann Law Group in 2004.
We've been exceptionally busy lately, so this is the first time we've had some time to actually take a look at what we've accomplished.
The Mann Law Group, now with a new associate Timothy Billick (bio and press release to come later), partnered up with John Whitaker to obtain a unanimous jury verdict award in the case Brilliant Instruments Inc v. GuideTech Inc. in the Northern District of California, Oakland Division (Case No No. C. 09-5517). The jury accordingly awarded a six-figure damages award to Mann Law Group's client. The firm represented GuideTech in this declaratory judgment action initiated by Brilliant Instruments.
The case covered Patent No. 6,226,231 ('231 Patent), which generally relates to a "plularity of measurement circuits" which are used to measure electrical signals down to the picosecond range. For you nomenclature nuts, that's 10 to the -12th second (or one-trillionth of one second). MLG inherited the case from several other law firms after it had been successfully appealed to the Federal Circuit and remanded to Oakland for trial.
"None of that was unanimous"
Every case has at least one or two lessons to be learned. This case? Always poll your jury, and always explain what "unanimous" means. After the judge had re-explained her instructions to the jury, the jury initially told us we lost. However, just as the Hon. Judge Claudia Wilken was getting ready to enter the judgment, one of the jurors spoke up in open court and informed the Court that the verdict "WAS NOT UNANIMOUS!"
The jury was ordered to continue deliberations. The next day, they came back in our favor.
We still have motions pending for an injunction, a defendant's motion to set aside the jury verdict, and a motion for an amendment of the judgment, but we have safely moved past the jury, and we have a damage award.
Next time we will take great care to make sure the judge tells the jury what "unanimous" means in jury instructions.
The overwhelming majority of cases settle. What varies is when, how and on what terms they do. Maybe it has to do with a weakening economy, but we're seeing a definite trend for defendants (or more likely their lawyers) to dig in their heels and fight, rather than take the sensible approach of reaching a deal.
I am not really surprised, given that every day I read of another major firm laying off 50 lawyers or, worse yet, shutting its doors. Money spent on lawyers is one of the first things cut when cash is tight, and with fewer big ticket litigation matters available to pay the rent, big firm lawyers have a powerful incentive to turn every case into something major.
How do I know?
I used to be a big firm partner working mostly the defense side and know how it goes.
The standard speech always includes an appeal to "principle" and the need to send a strong message that "we will not be pushed around." As if any plaintiff's lawyer actually takes that into consideration.
There are a lot of questions we consider before taking a case and certainly before filing a complaint. Most important is, does the case have merit? Second, are potential damages sufficient to make it worthwhile? Very important is whether the defendant can actually pay if judgment is obtained? However, one question that NEVER gives us any pause whatsoever is, "will the defendants put up a fight?" Of course they will. That is ALWAYS a possibility, and a company's reputation for defending cases vigorously simply does not enter into the calculation. Facing defense counsel and their defenses is just part of the game.
Having now been on the plaintiff's side for quite some time, I feel somewhat foolish recalling the principled speeches I once gave corporate clients regarding the need to stand up and send a strong message to the plaintiff's bar. In reality, my opponents did not care about reputations, "messages" or the perceived nastiness of defense counsel.
I understand a big firm lawyer's need to hit his numbers and bring in the cash. And fighting cases is what we lawyers do, on both sides. But rational business decisions by clients should be based on more than silly claims about "messages" and "principle" and so forth. You'd think that people smart enough to get rich in the first place would know when their lawyers are blowing smoke.
Again, the overwhelming majority of cases settle, and they usually do so when when clients wake up to where their true interests actually lie.
It is with delight I'm announcing the start of my new law firm, The Mann Law Group. I started my own firm because I believed innovators and other start-ups, without the huge financial resources of large corporations, were at an extreme disadvantage in enforcing their intellectual property rights.
Hiring lawyers at high hourly rates made protecting the little guy's rights impractical. I intend to provide such innovators an alternative.Continue Reading...