Greg Latham

A case involving the rights to an antimicrobial stethoscope required all pieces to fall into place perfectly.

Lawyers Greglatham

Intellectual Property
Intellectual Property Consulting
22 years in practice
BS University of Illinois; JD Tulane University School of Law

Greg Latham, founder and managing director of Intellectual Property Consulting LLC, said one of his toughest cases demonstrates the value of preparation.

Latham’s firm specializes in trademarks, copyrights, patents, trade secrets, entertainment, software, internet law and other intellectual property issues.

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In 2017, Latham was hired to represent a client in a dispute over the inventor rights of an antimicrobial stethoscope. The game plan, said Latham, was to essentially win the case before any litigation began.

“In our world, the toughest part of the case is often what happens before you get to the courthouse,” he said. “It’s all of the strategy that gets wrapped into a case before anyone even knows there is a case.”

Latham’s client, a medical device company, was developing a “new and improved” stethoscope. Meanwhile, a doctor who had worked with the company in the past claimed that the idea was his. For Latham, the challenge was to define what kind of fight there was going to be and where it would take place.

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“The other side wanted this case to be about a confidentiality agreement. They said their client signed an agreement, and my client breached it by pursuing this invention,” he said. “They wanted the fight to be in state court in their hometown where they had political connections. We wanted the case to be about patents and for it to be in federal court, where political connections aren’t nearly as important.”

The doctor’s team hurried to file a state court action while Latham’s team began a multi-step process to get the case moved to federal court. The first step was filing a patent application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office and speeding up a process that can often take a year. Latham needed it done in 90 days.

“The application had to be drafted well enough that they would grant a patent, which is a challenge,” he said. “And then, assuming we could get the patent, we had to convince a federal judge to take over the case.”

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Latham said the whole process is like a line of dominoes.

“If even one doesn’t fall correctly, you’re not going to get to the end,” he said. “Everything has to happen perfectly and, in this particular case, it did.”

Latham said the patent office “put [his client] at the front of the line” and granted a patent for the stethoscope. A federal judge took the case and “within a couple of weeks, and the matter was resolved on terms that were very beneficial to our client.”

This case was especially gratifying, said Latham, because all the preparation paid off perfectly, which he said doesn’t happen every time.

“As you can imagine, often one of those dominoes doesn’t fall and then you have to regroup and re-analyze,” he said. “But we are pretty proud about how it all worked out.”

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