Oblon, Spivak Reflects on 40 Years of Growth and Progress

January 17, 2008 – Firm News

Beginning in 1968, a team of innovative attorneys set about laying the foundation of this great Firm, which has since grown to become one of the largest in the United States specializing exclusively in intellectual property law. The focus then, as now, was the delivery of top-notch client service.

Back in the late sixties, all of the Firm’s active patent files fit easily into only two filing cabinets … one for electrical/mechanical cases and one for chemical cases. But the driving ambition of our founding members carried Oblon, Spivak to its current position as one of the most active and respected full-service IP practices.

Currently, the firm boasts a large and impressive clientele, including many companies that are world leaders in their fields. The staff has grown to nearly 500, including over one hundred legal professionals with backgrounds in all major areas of technology, steeped in legal experience ranging from the Patent and Trademark Office to the U.S. Supreme Court.

During the Seventies and Eighties, it became evident that in order to serve clients more effectively, we would have to learn about their businesses within the context of their cultures and working environments. Thus, our legal professionals began to travel more extensively, making friends and solidifying our reputation for excellence in client services world-wide. At the same time, we invited our clients to send representatives to train in our office to help them understand our firm and the practice of law in the U.S.

Our litigation practice group, which also started out quite small but is now a substantial portion of the firm, has become very well-known for its ability to present complex technologies and sophisticated legal issues in ways that judges and juries can readily understand. Over several decades, the group has gained extensive experience in litigating complex patent, trademark, copyright, trade secret and unfair competition disputes before the federal district courts, and has become particularly adept at representing the unique interests of foreign clients before U.S. courts in jury trials. The group has successfully handled many high profile litigations, but is perhaps best known for the famous Festo case which went twice to the U.S. Supreme Court.

In the late Eighties, the Firm brought on several well-known Trademark attorneys to complete it’s goal of becoming a full service IP Firm, changing the modest Trademark practice group into the impressive group it is today, comprised of seasoned attorneys, including two former judges from the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB), who devote their full time to all aspects of trademark, copyright and related unfair competition matters.

By 1991 Oblon, Spivak was named the number one IP firm for obtaining more U.S. utility patents annually than any other firm, and the Firm has never relinquished that title -- an amazing record of success. As a natural consequence, the firm is understood to possess more experience in patent prosecution than any other firm.

Some of the Firm’s successful growth over the years is attributable to its relationship with examiners and executives of the Patent and Trademark Office. Physical location played a role in this. Our first office building in Crystal City, Virginia was within walking distance of the PTO, and our efficient new building is directly adjacent the new PTO campus in Alexandria, Virginia. This proximity to the PTO facilitates face-to-face interviews with PTO decision makers, and has been of unparalleled value to our ability to deliver extraordinarily efficient client services. Moreover, close communication with PTO officials has afforded opportunities to cooperate in the realization of some of the PTO’s goals, such as, increasing electronic filing. This close relationship has given our firm the capacity to help the PTO in developing user-friendly procedures, which in turn has helped us reduce expenses and delays for our clients.

It’s hard to believe how much technology has changed the way we do business now as compared to the early days of our practice. A few of us still remember the days when the staff worked on typewriters with carbon paper between sheets to create the file copies. At this point in time, all of our legal professionals and administrative staff have direct access to a vast complement of cutting edge electronic resources. The Firm is committed to the utilization of state-of-the-art technologies to meet complex client demands with maximum efficiency. The technology infrastructure that our firm employs today, enables us to provide direct attention to clients’ worldwide, and to retain and intensify the tradition of excellence in client services begun four decades ago.