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Q&A with Indy Mukerji

June 15, 2016

Q&A with Indy Mukerji

June 15, 2016

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1.) What should your clients expect when working with you?

I’m fond of saying that we are doctors for businesses.  Just like a good doctor knows every head cold doesn’t require an MRI, I think a good lawyer has the sense to treat every case for what it is, based on a valuation of risk, potential upside/downside, and business reality.  So, I make it a point of pride to make sure my clients get a vigorous and successful (knock on wood) representation, without interfering in their ability to go about their business, disrupting executive and engineer time, and wasting resources on pointless discovery disputes and tenuous legal theories.  Basically, I try to make the patient well without killing the patient.

2.) What do you want procurement officers to know/think about when evaluating proposals from law firms? What advice would you like to share?

There’s a great story about the astronaut (later Senator) John Glenn.  When he was asked how he felt sitting in a space capsule as the countdown proceeded, he said he felt exactly the way one would feel getting ready to launch sitting on top of two million parts all built by the lowest bidder (paraphrasing).  That’s what I see sometimes when patent litigation procurement is commoditized.  The cases I work on usually have 8-, 9-, and even 10-figure exposure attached to them; yet, sometimes the process gets bogged down in negotiating the most mundane and insignificant points.  Every legal representation relationship has to be built on trust.  If you find yourself writing having to write airtight procurement contracts to ensure your lawyer doesn’t gouge you, you probably don’t have the right lawyer.

3.) What recent trends are having the biggest impact on your industry?

It’s amazing to see the effect that Patent Office post-trial practice (like IPRs) and Section 101 motions have had on cases overall.  In some regards, IPR practice is like putting a patent in a time machine back to the point the Patent Office issued it, and unsurprisingly, a lot of district courts have decided to let Patent Office take another crack before spending time on litigation.  That has had the natural effect of slowing the pace of litigation, and maybe even scaring off some who might otherwise file asserting bad patents.  So far, I’ve been very impressed with the PTAB judges I’ve seen in the couple dozen or so post-grant proceedings I’ve been involved with.  And Alice and its Section 101 progeny has had a huge effect on software cases.  There’s some swing back to giving software patents a bit more deference, but the threat of losing patents to a 101 analysis definitely has many plaintiffs scared.  I’m proud of the role Fish has played in developing the law on both of these fronts.

4.) Who do you admire in the industry?

I don’t say this just because he’s my partner, but Ruffin Cordell really is everything one could aspire to be in a patent trial lawyer.  He touches all the bases – client counseling, case strategy, in-court performance, and technical depth – better than anyone I’ve ever seen.  I’m amazed that, even after working with him for a decade now, I’m constantly learning from him.

Attorney Bio

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Indranil Mukerji | Principal

Indranil (“Indy”) Mukerji is a Principal in Fish & Richardson’s Washington D.C. office.  His practice focuses on litigating and trying complex patent cases in federal courts and tribunals around the country in a wide variety of technologies, including electrical and computer...