Mann Law Group Gets Jury Verdict in Patent Case

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.

How am I Supposed To Get Any Work Done With All This Going On Outside My Office?


Mann Law Group Hires Timothy Billick

The Mann Law Group today announced that attorney Timothy J. Billick, Esq. joined the firm as an associate attorney on January 1, 2014. Billick focuses his practice on all aspects of intellectual property and copyright matters including litigation and represents clients in industries spanning technology, healthcare and media.

Tim has a broad range of experience though his government and policy work and brings an innovative approach to matters he is handling,” said Phil Mann, founder of the Mann Law Group.

Prior to joining the Mann Law Group, Billick served as an IP policy analyst for the University of Washington’s Center for Commercialization where he helped develop and revise the school’s IP management policies. As a law student, Billick interned for U.S. District Judge Richard L. Young in the Southern District of Indiana as well as the Snohomish County Prosecutor’s Office and the Federal Trade Commission.

Billick is a member of the International Trademark Association, Copyright Society of the United States of America, King County Bar Association IP Section and the KCBA Business Law Section. He earned his JD from the University of Washington Law School and a BS in Business Management from Purdue University. Tim also writes blogs for the Washington Lawyers for the Arts.

The firm is very excited to have Tim on board, and we're looking forward to his continued success here.

That Unsettling Feeling

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.

Firm founded to level playing field for innovators and start-ups

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.

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