Snoopy and other characters that the firm has defended are on display in the office that Gregory inherited from his father, arranged to train the eye in the subtle differences between the genuine and the knockoff. Many of the products, still outfitted with exhibit tags from trial, contain technology that was cutting edge at the time, such as a teddy bear that murmurs when spoken to. When Cook joined 23 years ago, the stuffed animals gave him insight into the firm's atmosphere.
"It's a tremendous combination of excellence and friendliness that is quite hard to find in the legal world," he said.
And some of the brands require constant vigilance. Japanese company Sanrio has been a client for 35 years, and the firm strikes down some sort of Hello Kitty infringement each day, Cook said. Searching for an example, Mel reaches under the couch to produce a skateboard that features the signature cat with a bullet hole in her forehead. "Bye Bye Kitty," the board reads. It didn't stay on the market for long.
"We keep kitty out of trouble," Mel said.
The three men laugh, and the teddy bear murmurs in response.
Having grown up playing with these trademarked toys, Greg always knew he would follow Mel into the law. One of Greg's sons wants to be a dramaturge, but the other is contemplating a career as a lawyer. Will he be the next to lead Owen, Wickersham & Erickson?
"As long as he is a good lawyer," Greg begins.
"And is willing to work for a reasonable price," Mel interjects.