Interview with: Adriana Burgy, Partner

Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner LLP | View firm profile

What do you see as the main points that differentiate Finnegan from your competitors?

Experience, depth of practice, efficiency, quality, and value are all services everyone sells, and our competitors aptly describe themselves as able to provide all those types of legal services. Having those qualities does not set you apart from the crowd.

Finnegan leads the intellectual property legal market because all we do is intellectual property law; every day, all day, and everyone. Our attorneys speak our clients’ language, our attorneys have worked in our clients’ industries, our attorneys hold advanced degrees in all the major sciences, and our attorneys are experts in their respective fields. But most of all, we invest in our attorneys. That investment comes in the form of training, mentoring, continuing education, and our firm resources. Our attorneys are as passionate as our clients are about their new inventions/technological advancements. This is what sets Finnegan ahead of its competitors; every day, all day, and everyone.

Which practices do you see growing in the next 12 months? What are the drivers behind that?

It all starts with the innovation. But how do you protect that invention? By obtaining a patent. And how do you obtain a patent? Patent prosecution. Today, innovation is alive and well in the world, which means those areas growing include all things intellectual property and particularly, obtaining and protecting patents. From a patent prosecution perspective, where you are looking to protect your innovation, areas to watch include how the courts and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) continue to tackle subject matter eligibility. The USPTO also continues to roll out a number of programs geared toward its quality initiatives and pilot programs, and we will continue to see the effects of the American Invents Act, e.g., developing and implementing prosecution strategies with an eye towards insulating granted patents from post-grant proceedings.

Intellectual property continues to be an area that clients look to build and/or solidify their edge in the marketplace. Finnegan services all aspects of intellectual property, including all aspects of patent, trademark, copyright, and trade secret law, including counseling, prosecution, licensing, and litigation. We also represent clients on IP issues related to international trade, portfolio management, the Internet, e-commerce, government contracts, antitrust, and unfair competition. In the next 12 months, we will continue to see growth in all of these different aspects of intellectual property as long as companies continue to innovate, compete, and grow.

What’s the main change you’ve made in the firm that will benefit clients?

Our clients innovate in their technology space, and so do we. We took a 360-degree look at the way we handle patent prosecution at the firm; we innovated our docketing systems, updated the administrative aspects of patent prosecution, and modernized the internal resources available to those that are involved in patent prosecution. What does this mean for clients? It means our attorneys’ focus remains on the legal, technical, and strategic aspects of patent prosecution, while at the same time meeting the administrative demands of clients today. We offer big-firm resources with a small-firm feel.

Is technology changing the way you interact with your clients, and the services you can provide them?

While technology continues to change the way we interact with our clients, as well as the services that we provide them, it is just one part of the picture. From an administrative perspective, technology gives us the ability to manipulate large amounts of data, instantaneously forward court and agency communications to our clients, keep in constant communication with our clients, and provide various platforms to demonstrate our skill set. But technology cannot be a substitute for a personal call or face-to-face meeting. As technology revolutionizes the way we conduct business, the bedrock of our firm remains the relationships between our clients and our attorneys. Technology merely serves as a facilitator or a tool in building or growing that relationship.

Can you give us a practical example of how you have helped a client to add value to their business?

Adding value to a client’s business is one of the best ways to stand out and to really become partners with clients in today’s competitive legal landscape. That is one of our goals at Finnegan, i.e., to become a trusted partner to our clients that can marry their legal and business objectives. For example, as a patent prosecutor, it is not only my job to draft and obtain robust protection for my clients’ inventions, but also to think strategically to position my clients favorably in the competitive landscape and for any future challenges (including post-grant proceedings) once a product comes to market. Recently, we were able to obtain patent coverage for an invention that was stuck in prosecution for many years. In view of that patent coverage, our client was able to negotiate a favorable licensing position with one of its competitors.

Are clients looking for stability and strategic direction from their law firms – where do you see the firm in three years time?

Clients come in all different shapes and sizes; their needs are just as diverse. But, stability and strategic direction are two characteristics that may unite all of our clients in what they look for from Finnnegan. In the next three years, Finnegan will continue to have the flexibility to pivot with our clients. Finnegan has and continues to be the world’s leading intellectual property firm. To maintain that position, we will continue to speak our clients’ languages by becoming an integral member of their team that helps them to obtain their business goals through their intellectual property assets.