What does inspiring leadership look like to you?
Inspiring leadership involves having a servant’s heart. As leaders, we need to strive to put the welfare of our professionals and the development of their careers above our own interests. No one, of course, is able to accomplish this in every aspect of their management. But, when we push earnestly towards that objective, the firm naturally grows, professionals tend to be quite content and clients are pleased with the service, in part because they are working with professionals who genuinely enjoy their jobs. In short, when we understand that our purpose is to serve our team just as we serve our families and clients, the rest falls into place quite naturally.
As well as being a noted litigator, you have won acclaim for your strategic approach to IP matters – how has this broadened your understanding of the different forms that a ‘win’ can take?
One thing I love about IP law is that so much creativity can be brought to bear in fashioning not only an enforcement or defence strategy, but also in crafting deals and settlements that bring value to both sides. Most disputes are not zero-sum games. With some out-of-the-box thinking, one can often devise a business resolution that leaves both parties in a better position than they were in before the dispute arose. In other cases, achieving a ‘win’ might require being open to re-routing efforts midstream and approaching the problem from a completely different direction. In one case, a defendant took steps to moot our requested relief, but those steps opened up a totally different legal avenue that proved to be substantially more beneficial. Being open-minded to potential solutions, especially those involving areas of law that are outside one’s specialisation or core expertise, can yield substantial dividends.
What are the key skills that a patent litigator needs to succeed?
Passion and creativity are critical to achieving the best possible result for your clients, yet it is imperative to be dispassionate in evaluating the merits of each asset or argument. A good attorney needs the ability to turn their passion on and off when switching between strategising, on the one hand, and critical research and evaluation, on the other.
While you are primarily known for defending patents, you work on both sides of the ‘v’ – what insights does this give you into your opponents’ tactics?
That insight is fundamental to developing any strategy, in my view. It is hard to imagine how one can develop a sound strategy without completely understanding the full array of strategic options available to one’s opponent. Preparing a case involves, first and foremost, identifying the most effective countermeasures the opponent might deploy and taking proactive steps to prevent or mitigate them.
What are some of the biggest challenges facing your clients right now – and how are you helping them to face these?
As commerce continues to spread more widely around the globe and as the IP systems in many countries are rapidly and continually evolving, it can be challenging to determine how limited resources should be deployed to extract the most value from each company’s intellectual property. By staying abreast of international trends and developments, I hope to provide advice that not only achieves the client’s short-term objectives but also stands the test of time and continues to pay dividends 10 years from now.
Greg Gardella is the managing principal of Gardella Grace. He has a BS in mechanical engineering (magna cum laude), a master’s in electrical engineering from the University of Minnesota and a JD from the University of Michigan (cum laude). Mr Gardella is recognised as an expert in post-grant proceedings, and is experienced in IP transactions, litigation and patent prosecution, successfully defending the fTiVo DVR patent, which went on to generate over $1 billion in licensing revenue.