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About Kurt Leyendecker

Kurt Leyendecker specializes in intellectual property law, including the procurement of United States patents for individual inventors and small entrepreneurial companies.

Denver Patent Attorney Reminisces About How He Almost Died in a Freak San Diego Snow Storm Many Years Ago

Yeah, yeah, I know what you are going to say: there are no snow storms in San Diego.  Well, may be not now but this occurred before global warming.  And I will admit my recollection might be a bit fuzzy.

The following is actually a post I wrote 6 long years ago back when the clocks ran slower and I had time to draft such long posts.  I came across it this morning as I was reviewing old posts looking for inspiration for an online ColoradoBiz magazine article I am writing.  Pete and I are going to be writing an Intellectual Property column twice a month for  for the magazine’s online presence.  Check them out at   www.cobizmag.com and sign up for the FREE print magazine and the daily E-newsletter.  Hey, our column alone will make it well worth the cost.

Enough with the plug, I decided to republish the post largely because we have been remiss in publishing anything in the last two weeks and this one seemed as good as any.

Here is the the post, which was originally entitled:  Letting a Multi-Million Dollar Opportunity Slip Away!:

First off, this article is not what you think it is. In fact, it has absolutely nothing to do with intellectual property, patents or business law. Rather, this is less of an article and more of a story: a funny story that I can laugh about now but while it was happening, I was a bit terrified. And perhaps this is a bit of commentary concerning our litigious society. So enjoy…

Back in the late eighties and early nineties long before becoming an attorney, I was a composite materials engineer with Martin Marietta. During my five year tenure at Martin, I had the opportunity to travel to San Diego several times including once to attend the annual meetings of the Society for the Advancement of Material and Process Engineering (SAMPE) at the then new convention center. I was fortunate to have a room in the hotel right next to the convention center. The hotel is currently a Marriott but I don’t remember if it was a Marriot then. Here is a link with pictures of the hotel. I was given a room near the top of the high rise with a very nice bay view.

Anyhow, one evening I came back to my room after the conference sessions had ended and decided to snap a few shots of the bay at sunset. Since it was getting dark, I took a cheap inexpensive tripod I had packed onto the balcony with me to hold my camera steady for the long exposure shots. It was a bit nippy (around 55 degrees or so) but since I was going to be outside a mere 5 minutes or so I didn’t bother with a jacket.

I shot a few pictures, decided the lighting or composition wasn’t that interesting and decided to return to the warmth of my room rather than waste anymore film. I turned to open the sliding glass door and guess what, it wouldn’t open. It had become locked! I was locked out on the balcony at 150-200 feet above the ground! Ok, some of you are wondering why in hell I closed the door in the first place. Yeah, I was wondering that then as well as: I guess I was trying to conserve energy. And it seemed almost immediately after I couldn’t open the door that the temperature dropped another 5-10 degrees, although that may have been me.

Apparently, the latch was loose and slid downwardly when I closed the door behind me. Anyhow, my frantic jiggling of the door probably only made the latch more secure. Why in hell do they need locks on balconies 15 or more stories above the ground anyway!

I looked over to the rooms to the left and right of me and they were dark. Perhaps their doors were unlocked but because of the way the balconies were recessed into the building’s exterior, there was no way to climb to them without risking a life-ending slip.

I looked below and saw a number of people milling about the entry to the hotel. “Help, Help, I am locked on the Balcony!” No one heard me! They just kept going about there business. The temperature seemed to drop even further and I thought I saw snow. People have told me since that it doesn’t snow in April (or ever) in San Diego but I swear I saw it.

Again, I looked at the neighboring rooms. Their lights were still out! What if those rooms were empty? There was a small gap between the edge of the balcony and the wall of the room where I peeped down at the room below me. Its light was also out!

As a rare once in a millennium April ice storm descended on San Diego, I was trapped on the balcony hundreds of feet above the ground. Could I last the night, I wondered. As I buttoned the top button on my polo shirt, it hit me: I could break the glass on the sliding glass door and gain entry to my room, warmth and safety. But the glass seemed rather thick and how could I break it. And if I did, would the hotel charge me for the damage. They shouldn’t I thought since the locking door was their fault. If I broke it, would shards of glass descend upon me? After all to break the thick seemingly bullet-proof glass, I would have to lie on my back and slam the bottoms of my shoes into the glass. The risk of a large piece of the pane falling downwardly at my legs and chopping them off seemed all too real. I decided to wait a little while longer.

And then I realized I was hungry too! I had not eaten dinner yet! The darkness enveloped me. As drifts of snow began to form next to where I was seated on the frozen concrete balcony floor, a beam of warm inviting light shot up from the room below indicating the source of my salvation. The occupants were home. Hallelujah! At first I yelled at them through the small gap between the balcony floor and the room wall but they did not hear. Perhaps, I was not to be rescued after all.

In harrowing and difficult circumstances, people have the ability to rise to an occasion to save themselves or those around them. An epiphany came to me at that moment as I hit bottom: take the tripod; stick it through the gap; and tap on the door below. I don’t know how I summoned the strength but I crawled over to a drift of snow and dug out the tripod from where it had been buried cutting my frost bitten hands on shards of ice. I lowered the tripod and I tapped it. I tapped it with every ounce of strength in my worn and ravaged body.

And the door opened. I was saved!

Very soon after, hotel personnel opened the sliding glass door and pulled me to safety. I was just glad to have survived those never ending 15 minutes exposed to the elements. Miraculously, The clouds outside blew away, the snow and sleet stopped and the air temperature warmed to about 60 degrees. Grateful, I thanked my rescuers and went out to a nice seafood dinner.

What made me recall this difficult and trying time that I had all but blocked from my memory? Recently, a person in Colorado filed suit against Home Depot for being glued to a toilet seat in the store’s bathroom further claiming that Home Depot’s employees did not respond quickly enough. And what does this victim claim the waiting (about 15 minutes), the humiliation, and the suffering worth to him: 3 million dollars. Some commentators and media personnel have wondered whether the whole thing is a hoax. I just can’t figure out how one would become glued to foreign toilet seat in the first place. Who in their right mind sits on a toilet seat in a store restroom without looking first! Shouldn’t he have seen the glue? And given background as a materials engineer, I cannot think of an adhesive that would remain tacky for any significant period of time and then set immediately when coming into contact with an ass.

Anyhow, what if I had sued the hotel because the latch on the balcony door was defective? If a butt glued to a toilet seat is worth three million what would my experience be worth: 100 million or more? Instead of being a humble patent attorney writing this blog article, I could have been sunning on my personal south pacific island. But truth be told, I never considered suing. It didn’t even cross my mind until yesterday.

And to attorneys that wonder why our profession has such a bad reputation; I present to you as exhibit A the attorney representing the aforementioned Coloradan.

 

By |2020-05-06T15:44:56-06:00November 20th, 2011|GENERAL INTEREST|0 Comments

PART 1: Why Choose Leyendecker & Lemire as You’re Denver-area Patent Attorneys?

Most of our Blog posts to date have not been self serving but the foregoing is a question we hear regularly and I can’t think of a better forum to address this question. Truth be told, picking a good patent lawyer and intellectual property law firm can be a very difficult task and is not one that should be entered into lightly. But why should you choose us over the competition? There are many reasons and in the next week or so I will discuss them in a series of blog posts.

  • We have multiple patent attorneys on staff: technology considerations. The importance of this over solo practitioners cannot be over emphasized. Our attorneys have different areas of technical expertise. Chances are that if one or our attorneys does not have experience in the field pertaining to your invention one of our other patent attorneys will. We have with experience drafting patent applications in all of the following technical areas: mechanical devices, computer hardware, software, materials, chemical compositions and formulations, biotech-related innovations and energy-related innovations to name a few. It is safe to say that a solo-practitioner by himself will not have the base of technical knowledge that three attorneys will have combined. It is not uncommon to have an invention that crosses into two or more technical areas and likewise it is not uncommon for L&L attorneys to interface with each other to ensure that the technical aspects of a client’s invention are properly disclosed in a patent application.
  • We have multiple patent attorneys on staff: legal considerations. Patent law specifically and intellectual property law generally is constantly changing. Furthermore, legal decisions are rarely crystal clear in their holdings. However, because there are three patent lawyers on staff, we often debate the meanings of seminal decisions within the office to help formulate strategies that maximize benefit to our clients. Solo practitioners often do not have this type of day to day contact with other patent attorneys, and as such, the risk that they might misconstrue changes in the law perhaps to a client’s detriment is significantly increased.
  • Our patent attorneys have real world engineering and science experience. Many if not most patent lawyers proceed directly from completing their undergrad engineering/science degrees to obtaining their JDs and becoming lawyers. In other words many have never held a job as an engineer or scientist. And most of the remainder spent perhaps 3-5 years in the “real world” before becoming a patent attorney. At L&L, we believe understanding science and technology is about more than just obtaining an undergrad degree: it is about real life experience. The patent lawyers at L&L have real world experience and lots of it. Combined the three of us have spent well over 50 years practicing as engineers and scientists before making a midlife carrier change to pursue patent law. Personally, I have the experience of inventing several products in the bicycle industry and taking those products from paper to the market through a company that I founded.

Check back in the next few days or so for additional reasons in parts 2 & 3, and perhaps, even part 4.

By |2020-05-06T15:44:56-06:00November 3rd, 2011|PATENTS|0 Comments

Denver Patent Lawyer to Appear on Tom Martino Radio Show to Discuss the Patent Reform Act.

On Wednesday, September 14th 2011 from 10am-12pm on KHOW (630 on the AM dial), I will be appearing on the Tom Martino show to discuss with him changes in the patent laws as a result of the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act that will be signed into law any day now.

Please tune in if you have the chance or if you are reading this after the fact listen or download the podcast at http://www.khow.com/cc-common/podcast/single_page.html?podcast=fullshow_martino.

Peter Lemire will be joining us as well and as is the case anytime we appear on the Tom Martino show, calls from inventors, artists, entrepreneurs and other creative types are welcome with questions on anything related to Intellectual Property Law including copyrights, trademarks and trade secrets in addition to patents.

By |2011-09-13T08:37:11-06:00September 13th, 2011|COPYRIGHTS, FIRM NEWS, GENERAL INTEREST, PATENTS, TRADEMARKS|0 Comments

Colorado Patent Attorney Answers Your Questions: Should I Patent My Invention/Idea?

This is a question I hear quite a bit. And it is an important one. After all, pursuing and obtaining a patent on your invention can cost well over ten thousand dollars by the time it is all said and done. You need to know what the expenditure is getting you.

Unfortunately, it is not a question easily answered in a blog post. And the answers as they apply to others may not apply to equally to you. I discuss some basics here but you are advised to seek counsel from one of our patent attorneys concerning your specific situation.

To help the answer the question, there are a few additional questions you should consider. How potentially valuable is you invention/idea? Do you intend to make money of off your invention and if so, how much? Are you willing and able to invest the money, time and effort to make a success of your invention? Do you want to license/sell you invention to a company and receive revenue from them?

If the improvement offered by your invention over what is currently available is not significant enough to compel a consumer to purchase your product or service over others currently available, than obtaining a patent probably does not make sense. If the market for your invention is small, the risk that someone will copy you is reduced possibly obviating the need for a patent.

Perhaps you have no desire to make money on your invention; however, the mere fact that you are reading this article in this blog likely indicates otherwise. Nevertheless, the primary reason for obtaining a patent is to maximize the value of an invention. I suppose one could what a patent so he/she could impress others at cocktail parties but there are other forms of braggadocio that can be obtained more economically.

If you don’t have the money to pursue the patent (typically thousands of dollars), than a patent probably isn’t for you. Sure there are ways to reduce the cost of obtaining a patent, such as doing work yourself, but you get what you pay for. What is the old cliché: a penny wise and a pound foolish?

A patent is a just a tool. By itself it will never make you any money. Unless you are willing to spend both time and money promoting your invention than you probably shouldn’t bother. Put another way, a hammer doesn’t drive nails unless you swing it. If you’re hoping that merely getting the patent will cause riches to just roll in, you have probably seen too many TV commercials featuring a caveman.

Finally, if you hope to sell your invention to a large company and have them make and sell the product and pay you a portion of the earnings, it doesn’t happen very often. BUT it nearly never happens unless you have protected your invention usually with a patent. Simply, why would a company pay you for your invention if they could just make and sell the product without paying you?

Feel free to call us and set up a free initial consultation. We can discuss your specific situation to determine whether patenting you invention makes sense for you.

By |2020-05-06T15:44:56-06:00September 6th, 2011|GENERAL INTEREST, PATENTS|0 Comments

THE LEMONADE STAND and of solving our country’s economic doldrums.

In the beginning we were a nation of adventurers willing to strike out into the unknown and take chances on an uncertain future with dreams of prosperity if not for ourselves for our children. This came naturally to us: our parents and grandparents risked death on the high seas crammed into the wooden bowels of barely ocean worthy craft all for the dream of a better life away from the rigid class structures of Europe. They were of a different sort or breed compared with those who stayed behind. They were adventurers who were willing to take big risks, even facing death, on the hope of future rewards even of those rewards were uncertain, improbable or even unknown.

Our forefathers and mothers moved West in search of a better life. And as it is with all who strike out from the comfortable and familiar, many failed. But some succeeded. Collectively, they built new towns, cities and states and created wealth and prosperity where there was none before.

In the East, a merchant class arose following in the footsteps of renegade entrepreneurs like John Hancock who helped free the nation from rigid and stifling constraints of stuffy old England. Our eastern cities began to rival those of Europe and a new class was created: a large and prosperous middle class.

Entrepreneurship exploded in this country around the turn of the last century when the industrial revolution spurred the creation of giant corporations. And we invited in the people of the world who were fleeing economic desperation and political strife in their homelands. The immigrants didn’t just work for the corporations, they started new businesses: restaurants, ethnic delis, service stations and so many others that served the growing populace. My grandfather was among them: he left Germany in the nineteen twenties. He started and nursery lost it and started another business. I vaguely remember him and several of his employees plying into a landscaping truck filled with rakes, lawn mowers and shovels off to preen the manicured lawns of long island.

Our forefathers, these immigrants, pioneers, refugees, ultimately succeeded in creating a better life, not only for themselves for us as well.

And along the way in the last sixty or seventy years as we have revelled in our prosperity, we have largely lost it: the drive, determination, grit and tolerance for uncertainty that propelled us here. We go to college, get a degree and hope to find employment at a large corporation that will pay us well and give us a nice benefits package. If we get laid off, we look to the government for an unemployment check. Most of us don’t even know how to be self sufficient. To be fair, our technologically complex society has at least something to do with it: many of us have specialized professions that do not easy translate into a skill or vocation outside of bureaucratic company or the government.

Which brings us to my point: solving our countries economic problems and well, the lemonade stand. Over the past couple of weekends my kids (9 year old twins) set up a lemonade stand and sold the yellow elixir to thirsty Parade of Homes passersby. They learned the thrill of running their own business and having people buy and enjoy their wares. They learned about the cost of raw materials and pricing their product to make a profit. They learned about sitting around and persevering during the slow times waiting and hoping for busy times. And they learned how to make money apart from a wage handed down from an employer. For a brief few hours they were self-employed.

So how does all this help the economy? The way we grow our economy and as a society depend on our ability to innovate and move forward. And for this we need people who think outside of the box and our willing to risk failure for the reward of self determination. In the fifteenth century, they were called explorers; in the sixteenth and seventeenth century they were called colonists; in the eighteenth century, they were pioneers; and for the last hundred years we have known them as entrepreneurs. Perhaps the lemonade stand will help my kids realize that they do not need the safety of a regular paycheck to survive and prosper but that all they need is a belief in themselves and their abilities. And it is never too late for all of us to realize these lessons.

Perhaps among those that will read this blog post are future innovators who will create products the rest of us are not aware yet aware that we need or want. Perhaps among those who will read this blog post are the future employers of thousands. Perhaps among those who will read this post are those that will help ensure future of this nation’s continued prosperity. And perhaps for some the journey began when they were young and got their first taste of entrepreneurship running a simple neighbourhood lemonade stand.

By |2020-05-06T15:44:56-06:00August 30th, 2011|GENERAL INTEREST, OTHER|0 Comments

We begin again, yet again

We go through spurts. Sometimes we publish more often to the blog and then we don’t publish anything for a long while.

The heyday of the blog was back in 2006-2007.  Much of the advice from back then is still good BUT readers want new content.  And they want it to be interesting.

So we begin again.  This time things will be different.  We have all L&L attorneys participating and we have a backlog of topical articles ready to go. Initially, expect 1-2 new articles each week.

We have also decided to disable the “comments” capability of the blog.  While we would love to accept sincere and meaningful comments, having to wade through 100 comments pointing us to porn sites or Viagra purveyors for every good comment is just too much. If you do have an insightful comment email it to us and we will do our best to respond as appropriate.  If there is a topic that you would like us to address, feel free to let us know, as well.

Now on with the show…

Kurt

By |2020-05-06T15:44:56-06:00August 2nd, 2011|PATENTS|0 Comments

Patent Searches – An animated guide

Only this morning, I received a comment on a blog post suggesting that the information contained in our articles be turned into video presentations.  Coincidentally, we have been working on this very thing!  Enclosed below is our first effort: an animation created at xtranormal.com.  This website allows you to take any printed text and turn it into a movie spoken by anyone of a number of animated characters.  This site is absolutely amazing and depending on how this “test” movie is received, we will likely create more.

However, you will note that the animation is not perfect: the robot sometimes mispronounces words and, in fact, to date we have been unable to get it to say “Lemire” properly.  The robots cadence and pace could use improvement in some areas.  In the end, this took much longer than I would have liked to edit. Nevertheless, it is simply amazing that this technology is even available.

Please send us your comments.

By |2020-05-06T15:44:56-06:00November 29th, 2010|PATENTS|0 Comments

Resources for Inventors and Entrepreneurs

I was able to catch a few minutes of the Patent Office’s 15th Annual Independent Inventors Conference web cast.  The speaker was from the Kaufman Foundation, an organization dedicated to fostering and promoting entrepreneurship in the United States.  If you are not familiar with these folks, their website is perhaps worth checking out.  See www.kaufman.org. While you are at it check out their affiliate site entrepreneurship.org.  Hopefully, you find these sites useful.

By |2010-11-05T07:43:15-06:00November 5th, 2010|GENERAL INTEREST, PATENTS|0 Comments