March 26, 2015

Sometimes our clients pressure us to “push the edge of the envelope”. Apparently that happened last December to a patent lawyer named Howard Neil Shipley, Shipley’s petition to the U.S. Supreme Court included some long, convoluted sentences, such as this one: “Both petitions thus strive for complementary objectives: The preceding petition to making the classical claim construction ET proof by refining it, so increasing its legal safety and bridging the “ET divide” currently still separating this Court from the CAFC, PTO [121 S.VII], and mass of patent practitioners – this petition to speed-up achieving broad awareness of the refined claim construction’s much higher level of development, enabling increased professional efficiency and consistent/predictable SPL precedents for ET CIs.”

A footnote on page 37, the final page of Shipley’s petition, stated, “Prof. Sigram Schindler, the primary inventor of the ’453 patent, should be recognized for significant contributions to this petition.” (Schindler is a computer sciences professor at the Technical University of Berlin.)

That footnote was in flagrant disregard of a rule of the Supreme Court, which states: “Names of non-lawyers … such as research assistants, law students, and advisors may not appear on the cover [of the petition] under any circumstances; nor are they to be credited with having contributed to the preparation of the petition either in the text, in a footnote, or at the conclusion of the petition.”

About timheadley

For almost 30 years, as a lawyer, Tim Headley has been helping clients protect their intellectual property, according to the laws of patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets, not only in the United States, but in various countries around the world. Before that, he worked as an electrical engineer. Before that, he taught theology, in Spanish, to adult students, in the evenings, in a school in La Paz, Bolivia. You can contact him at, or his office phone, 713-467-8500, or his cell phone, 713-398-1045. His website is
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