Interview with: Danny Awdeh, Partner

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

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

At Finnegan, we liken ourselves to the GP of IP firms. Since the firm was founded more than fifty years ago, we have grown to approximately 350 legal professionals 100% dedicated to, and focused on, IP. We have a wealth of experience in virtually every technology area and IP subject matter—backed by a collaborative work environment and enthusiasm for IP inherent in our firm’s philosophy and culture.

I was struck by Finnegan’s unique culture when I interviewed with the firm for an entry level associate position. Whether an opinion, complex prosecution matter, licensing deal, litigation, or new technology, Finnegan attorneys take advantage of the firm’s collective expertise and resources. Our clients are firm clients and, as such, we work together as a firm to bring value to their businesses and legal objectives. This was true the day I interviewed and remains central to our practice today.

Finnegan also stands out for our IP infrastructure, which was built to suit our IP-only focus and collaborative approach. Our platforms are uniquely designed to accommodate the particularities of patent and trademark matters and to drive quality and efficiency across our service offerings.

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

I practice in the areas of trademark and false advertising. Over the next 12 months, I expect we will see continued advancements in blockchain technologies. This technology could have significant applications in the trademark context through the empowerment of consumers and brand owners to better authenticate genuine products and avoid/combat counterfeits. We have numerous experts within the firm involved in the advancements of this technology.

We’ve seen growth in the protection of nontraditional marks in the form of product designs and packaging. I expect this area to continue to grow over the next twelve months as brand owners look beyond traditional marks to stand out from their competitors.

I also see potential growth in false advertising. In the era of “fake news” and “alternative facts,” and in view of recent commitments by social media platforms and others to take a more active role in protecting the public from false information, I expect we will see growth in false advertising claims and lawsuits.

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

In addition to remaining committed to maintaining and fostering a collaborative work environment, we’ve continued to bolster our firm’s efficiencies and flexibility in meeting client needs. We are constantly looking for ways to take advantage of new technologies to enhance our client service and manage costs.

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

Technology has had a significant role in client accessibility, managing work, and driving efficiency. Through our various platforms, clients have 24/7 access to not only the latest developments in their IP portfolios, but advances/changes in the laws most relevant to their businesses. Our firm’s new website, for example, was designed as a tool for clients to follow the latest trends in their areas of interest and participate in our firm’s ongoing educational programing.

On the trademark side, our platforms provide the real-time status of a client’s marks throughout the world along with documents and other evidence that can be readily accessed for use in corporate matters or contentious proceedings. Our clients have valuable information and documents at their fingertips, enabling them to meet internal needs immediately at any time without contacting our firm or incurring any expense.

We’ve also grown our trademark practice over the years to meet the growing challenges facing our clients. We have an attorney dedicated solely to domain name and Internet trademark issues, trademark attorneys specialized in China-specific infringements, a team of in-house investigators versed in complex investigations, and other tools to meet the demands of today’s evolving marketplace.

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

A significant part of my practice involves international trademark portfolio management. I view this as an important role towards supporting client business opportunities, and approach portfolio management with this primary objective in mind. By strategically building portfolios tailored to existing and future business objectives, our clients have successfully entered valuable markets without interruption, obtained quick relief (both injunctive and monetary) against infringements/counterfeits threatening their businesses, and taken advantage of licensing opportunities and trademark sales that may not have otherwise been available.

We’ve also helped clients add value through our subject matter expertise. Whether it is an industry where I have significant experience (such as hospitality, food, sports, banking, automotive, etc.) or an area where one of my colleagues stands out, we pool our resources and work collaboratively to find a solution. For example, one of our trademark clients recently came to me with an urgent and complex software issue with significant business implications. The issue required someone deeply educated in the subject who could speak directly with the client’s software engineers. Fortunately, I was able to turn to my patent colleagues with computer science backgrounds and coding expertise who were eager to help. They were a seamless addition to the team, jumping in to provide invaluable support to our client under urgent circumstances.

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

Our firm’s culture has been central to our stability over the past fifty years and will remain integral to the firm’s philosophy and approach well into the future. I also see our continued development of technical expertise and adoption of technological advancements over the next three years as playing an important role in our commitment to providing high-quality legal services efficiently and custom tailored to our clients’ needs.