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Journal Record awards Phillips Murrah law firm top Reader Rankings honors

PM Reader Rankings attendees 2019

Phillips Murrah attorneys and executive leaders attend The Journal Record’s Reader Rankings Gala where the Firm won in five categories.

Phillips Murrah is proud to announce our Firm received top honors in five of The Journal Record’s Reader Rankings categories.

“It’s an honor to be recognized in our community for the challenging work our attorneys do every day,” Marketing Director Dave Rhea said.

Phillips Murrah received awards for Best Civil Litigation Firm, Best Family Law Firm, Best Intellectual Property Firm, Best Malpractice Firm and Best Overall Leadership at Reader Rankings Gala on June 20.

“We take pride in providing exceptional legal services while striving to provide a positive, balanced atmosphere for our attorneys and staff,” said Thomas G. Wolfe, Phillips Murrah President and Managing Partner.

The Reader Rankings program recognizes and celebrates the achievements of Oklahoma businesses and entrepreneurs.

Journal Record readers nominate and vote for the best businesses and organizations across a wide variety of categories encompassing the areas of construction and design, entertainment, finance/accounting, general business, health care, higher education, hospitality, legal services, real estate and information technology.

To learn more about the workplace culture and opportunities at Phillips Murrah, visit our Careers pagehttps://phillipsmurrah.com/careers.

Monkey’s business?

Gavel to Gavel appears in The Journal Record. This column was originally published in The Journal Record on June 21, 2018.


Cody Cooper

Cody Cooper is a Patent Attorney in the Intellectual Property Practice Group and represents individuals and companies in a wide range of intellectual property, patent, trademark and copyright matters. His practice also includes commercial litigation.

By Phillips Murrah Attorney Cody J. Cooper

In 2011, a nature photographer in an Indonesian nature reserve left his camera unattended in the forest. A 7-year-old crested macaque monkey named Naruto, perhaps in an effort to increase its Instagram followers, decided to take several selfies using the camera. The photographer then, in 2014, published the monkey’s photographs in a book for sale online.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals sued as next friend of Naruto seeking to enforce Naruto’s copyrights to the photographs and to recover profits from the sale of the book.

The question became whether Naruto had statutory standing to claim copyright infringement on what became referred to as Monkey Selfies. According to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, the answer is no.

Humans, unlike monkeys, have a constitutional right to protect their works and inventions under Clause 8 of Section 8 contained within Article I of the Constitution, and those rights are further set out in the United States Copyright Act. These rights include the right to use, distribute, sell, duplicate, display and create derivative works. These rights are most commonly associated with books, magazines, plays, paintings and photographs, but can also apply to things like architecture and even graffiti.

The 9th Circuit, in Naruto, et al., v. Slater, et al., No. 16-15469 (9th Cir. April 23, 2018) affirmed the trial court’s ruling that, despite the fact that the monkey had standing under Article III of the U.S. Constitution, Naruto did not have standing under the Copyright Act to bring the lawsuit. In other words, monkeys (or any other animal) cannot bring copyright infringement claims because the Copyright Act does not expressly authorize it. So, Naruto’s case was dismissed.

Citing Cetacean Cmty. v. Bush, 386 F.3d 1169, 1175 (9th Cir. 2004) as precedent, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals held that “if an Act of Congress plainly states that animals have statutory standing, then animals have statutory standing. If the statute does not so plainly state, then animals do not have statutory standing.”

If Naruto teaches nothing else, it should be to remember that if you see your pet attempting to take a selfie with an abandoned camera, be sure to take the picture yourself, in case it becomes famous. Someone will be making money on it, and it might as well be you.

Cody J. Cooper is a patent attorney with the Oklahoma City law firm of Phillips Murrah.

Phillips Murrah Attorney Cody Cooper earns patent license

Cody Cooper is an associate in the Intellectual Property Practice Group and represents individuals and companies in a wide range of intellectual property, patent, trademark and copyright matters. His practice also includes commercial litigation.

Merging work life with personal interests is a tough feat to accomplish, but in 2015, Phillips Murrah Attorney Cody J. Cooper set in motion a two-year journey to make that a reality.

“I’ve always enjoyed science and looking at things to figure out how they work, and Intellectual Property is a great fit for that interest,” Cody said. “I like the idea of working hand-in-hand with inventors to help them along with the process, with the end goal of getting them a patent on their unique idea.

Intellectual Property is a perfect blend of law, science and entrepreneurship that perfectly aligns with my personal interests and passions.”

With this motivation in mind, Cody began the process of obtaining a license to become an official Patent Attorney.

“Everyone on the planet has had an idea at some point in their lives,” said Martin G. Ozinga, Of Counsel Attorney and Chair of the Firm’s Intellectual Property Practice Group. “There aren’t many practicing Patent Attorneys in Oklahoma, but there are plenty of folks who need one.”

Aside from personal gain, the designation of a Patent Attorney offers credibility and security for clients which isn’t afforded to those seeking patents on their own accord. However, the process for obtaining a patent license can be demanding, especially with a full-time legal workload.

In order to sit for the Patent Bar, candidates must have a scientific or technological background, typically in the form of an undergraduate degree in a science or engineering field, in addition to securing a law degree.

“I had accumulated undergraduate credits in chemical engineering, but I was short by 13 hours,” Cody said. “When I knew I wanted to pursue getting my patent license, I looked at the University of Central Oklahoma’s enrollment requirements and their course catalog to find classes that I could attend in the evenings after work.”

Because it had been several years since he took engineering courses in college, Cody tried to find a line of classes that qualified but from which he could start at the beginning. The best courses that worked for this were biology courses, he said.

Over the course of three semesters, Cody took four evening biology classes at UCO: biology, biology lab, microbiology and human anatomy with cadavers.

“During school, I had class two to three nights per week, and classes lasted two to three hours each night,” he said. “I also had homework, quizzes, tests and finals as part of these courses.”

Much like the standard college experience, he was in class with undergraduate students and had homework, regular tests and finals.

“When I was completing my third semester, I went to San Francisco and took a Patent Bar study course. The course was essentially a full-week course put on by the Practising Law Institute,” Cody said. “After I finished my last semester, I applied to the United States Patent and Trademark Office to take the Patent Bar and proceeded to take the exam.”

Cody spent a several hours most nights and weekends studying for the two months leading up to taking the Patent Bar. He passed on his first attempt, and as of July 2017 has officially obtained his Patent License and the ability to practice as a Patent Attorney.

Learn more about Phillips Murrah’s Patent, Copyright and Trademark Practice Group by visiting the Intellectual Property Practice Area page here.

Overcome obstacles to profiting from expiring patents

patent-stamp

Patent maintenance fees have led patent holders to abandon an increasing number of patents.

The recent increases in patent maintenance fees has led many patent holders to abandon an increasing number of patents because the cost of maintaining a large portfolio is becoming too high. Selling patents that are about to lapse is one option, however, doing so presents two primary concerns: lack of investment in expiring patents and litigation pricing, according to News 9.

U.S. patents must be renewed three times during their lifetime. Maintenance fees are due after the issue date of the patent every 3.5 years, 7.5 years and 11.5 years. Maintenance fees escalate at each renewal portion. Small entities are entitled to a 50 percent discount on maintenance fees and micro entities receive 75 percent off patent maintenance. These fees can be paid up to six months prior to their due date. Patents are not abandoned until a six-month grace period ends at years 4, 8 and 12 respectively. Patents can be renewed during their grace period for $160.

Most buyers will not pay a significant price for patents that are nearing their expiration date, for the same reason we are less likely to buy products in the store that are close to their “sell by” date. Also, in many circumstances, buyers may decide to enforce the patent, sometimes resulting in costs to the patent holder, making selling a patent for a lower five figure price undesirable.

To overcome transaction costs of selling patents for a low sale price, the patent holder must lower the transaction cost. This can be done by using the same negotiated patent purchase agreement for repeated transactions. Once the first transaction is completed, the patent holder and buyer can use the same patent purchase agreement for future transactions.

The second concern is primarily driven by the sale price of the patent. Most companies would be comfortable in selling the patent if the sale price of the patent significantly exceeded the cost of responding to discovery. In many respects, discovery issues in patent litigation are no different from discovery issues that arise in all other cases.

While it may not be realistic to sell a single patent nearing expiration for significant revenue, selling groups of these patents can generate significant revenues and responding to discovery for those few patents is manageable.

By selling groups of patents to the same buyer throughout the year, a patent owner can virtually eliminate the transaction costs while generating six figure annual revenue from patent assets that would otherwise soon become worthless.