Open Spaces and Closed Minds

Are IP attorneys expected to behave in a particular way? Always formal, poker faced and polished? Why are we driven by these unsaid, yet strictly imposed, diligently followed and unbelievably fettered, so called “professional etiquette.” I feel suffocated and wrongfully restrained by these norms, and wonder if all attorneys have to live with them for a life time.

Shedding some of those chains, I am sharing one of my more light-hearted experiences as a patent attorney. I hope you will enjoy it. Please forgive me if I have crossed the line you have drawn for how we attorneys must conduct ourselves.

During my fifteen years as an IP attorney I have had several interesting and amusing experiences.

One afternoon, I was urging my driver to get me out of Chennai before the traffic strikes when I received a call from the office.

“Are you in Chennai K?” N asked uncertainly.

I knew from her tone that something nasty was in store for me.

“Yes N. Do you want something from here?” I asked tentatively

“Yes K. Just a small thing.

If you don’t mind, can you just drop into the patent office and sign a few documents. It will take just two minutes,” she dropped the shell I was expecting.

“But, I am in my shorts N,” I tried to protest, but she cut me off.

“Please. It is really urgent.”

It seemed like a request, but it was an order, and I gave up.

“Turn around …,” I told my driver, who looked at me as if I had gone mad.

But, he did not express his feelings in words. He was used to my short temper, and decided to keep his emotions to himself.

Forty minutes later, we arrived at the Patent Office and I called C. I wanted to ask him to come to the car and take my signatures.

“Sir, I am on the second floor. Can you please come over? The Controller wants to meet you,” he said without hearing what I was trying to say.

“But C, I am wearing shorts,” I tried to reason, but he did not let me complete.

“That is not a problem Sir. Come fast Sir. It is urgent.”

Another urgency, and another order. Holding my reluctant driver’s arm, I   made my way towards the second floor. I was the centre of attention in the Patent Office that day, and the topic of discussion for several days thereafter, I was told. Every one stopped to gaze curiously at the funny guy with the cane, wearing a long pair of shorts, short t-shirt, and slippers.

Ironically, someone told me that they referred to me as “Short Patent Man” for several days. Thankfully that name has not stuck because ‘short’ or ‘Short patent’ doesn’t reflect my nature.

While we were at the elevator, C came bounding down the stairs and informed me that the Controller had to get on a call with the  Controller General and would meet me next time. Thanking my stars, I quickly signed the documents and rushed out without another word.

Authored by a Senior Partner at BananaIP Counsels.

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