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HASTINGS GRAD COMES BACK FOR CONGRESSIONAL CAMPAIGN Betty Richardson, former U.S. attorney for Idaho, current Democratic candidate for Congress and a Hastings College of the Law alum, hit the campaign trail in San Francisco last week. Richardson, who is trying to unseat Republican Rep. C.L. “Butch” Otter of Idaho, attended a campaign fund-raiser at Allegro restaurant hosted by four prominent area attorneys. She said getting out of her home state is the best way to raise campaign cash. “The reality is you don’t win elections if you don’t get on the air,” Richardson said. “Idaho is a low-donor state and leans Republican. That’s why my colleagues helping out in this way is so important.” Richardson attended Hastings in the early 1980s and was a Tony Patino fellow, a public interest fellowship awarded each year to a student at Hastings, Columbia Law School and University of Chicago Law School. Hastings professors Rory Little and Laurie Zimet co-hosted the fund-raiser with Susan Harriman, a partner at Keker & Van Nest, and William Keane, a partner at Farella Braun & Martel. Harriman and Keane are, like Richardson, former Tony Patino fellows. Richardson received a presidential appointment in 1993 as the ranking DOJ official in Idaho. She took the job just a year after the bloody siege of a cabin of separatists at Ruby Ridge. U.S. Marshall William Degan and the wife and child of a separatist were killed. “It fell to me to make sure we didn’t have another Ruby Ridge on my watch,” Richardson said. She also felt that the gruesome outcome could have been averted if federal law enforcement had been equally distributed throughout the state. Instead, when the Ruby Ridge incident occurred, she said, their sole office was in Boise. “Had we had a field office in northern Idaho I think the sequence of events would have unfolded much differently.” – Jason Dearen TURNING LIFE AROUND Ex-embezzler Annabella Flores was in Contra Costa County Superior Court Judge Richard Arnason’s courtroom recently, but the mood was upbeat — she was there to proclaim how much her life has changed. “The reason that I have been able to turn my life around is because of the power of recovery,” said Flores. The 33-year-old said that her addiction to methamphetamine drove her to commit crimes that landed her in county jail for fraud and embezzlement. “Recovery does work,” she said. On Aug. 16, Flores and Dawn Smith were this year’s winners of a court scholarship started by Arnason and First District Court of Appeal Justice James Marchiano, a former Contra Costa judge. The award is sponsored by the Contra Costa County Bar Association and Friends Outside. Danville law firm Gagen, McCoy, McMahon & Armstrong also donated to the scholarship. Both Flores and Smith once served time in county jail, and upon release enrolled in classes at Pittsburg’s Los Medanos College to start new careers. Flores, who was released in 2001, said the two met in jail and have stayed in touch. Flores, who received $2,000, plans to become a teacher. Smith, who got a $2,000 scholarship last year, has a 3.3 grade point average and is taking courses to be a licensed vocational nurse. Gagen, McCoy donated $1,500, which the women will use for educational expenses. Among the dozen people who attended the brief ceremony were several Contra Costa judges and attorneys who gave up part of their lunch hour to be there. “You have done so well,” said Arnason, who presented the awards. “We are so proud of you.” — Jahna Berry ART’S IN THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER A patent is like a painting. At least that’s what patent attorney Jonathan Barney believes. And like a painting, he says, a patent’s worth can be calculated. “If you’re an expert and know what to look for you can assess the value of a painting,” Barney says. “As a patent attorney you look for patents with lots of independent claims, which are typically better than those with one claim.” Barney and his brother James, also a patent attorney, came up with a statistical system to rank patent quality and launched a rating service, PatentRatings LLC, in March. In addition to the number of claims in a patent, they look at such factors as the likelihood a patent will be maintained or abandoned, its prosecution history, the technology it covers, and the firm prosecuting the patent. Based on such factors, they calculate an IP quotient, similar to an IQ rating of human intelligence. Barney says only half of patents are ever commercialized and more than half are abandoned before their life runs out. Certain fields fare better than others. While 95 to 98 percent of biotechnology patents are maintained, he says toys, golf and recreation patents have an abandonment rate of 75 to 80 percent. PatentRatings has ranked firms based on the number of patents issued to them in six different categories. In the medical device field, Townsend and Townsend and Crew ranked first with 543 medical device patents issued from 1997 to 2001. The service has ranked only one category, biotechnology, based on the quality of the patents issued. New York’s Fitzpatrick, Cella, Harper & Scinto came in at No. 1, while Philadelphia’s Woodcock Washburn and Morrison & Foerster placed second and third, respectively. While some firms have responded favorably to the rankings, Barney says others have been cool to the idea. “There is a feeling that they don’t want to be graded,” he says. Barney, who until last year was a partner at Newport Beach’s Knobbe Martens Olson & Bear, says his firm’s concern was one reason he started his own firm. His brother remains an associate at Washington, D.C.’s Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner. Unlike many firms, the business community has been receptive to the idea of rating patents. “Companies and the investment folk love it,” Barney says. “They are able to see where their patent portfolio is going and sometimes can pick up on a trend.” — Brenda Sandburg

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