Monday, October 31, 2016

Marks & Clerk & my grandfather & the IIPS meeting of 10/25/16

I became a patent attorney at my father's recommendation, because his father, Hermann Barschall, was a patent attorney.  That career stood my grandfather in good stead.

My grandfather professed Lutheranism as an adult, but he had Jewish ancestry.  A couple of times, I met his cousin's son, Leo L Barschall, who was still Jewish.  I believe that my grandfather's ancestors were mostly if not all Jewish.  He was therefore a target of the Holocaust as non-Aryan.

My grandfather fled Germany using a visa forged by his secretary/office administrator, Hannah Jakobs.  My father told an interesting tale about her.  Apparently she helped many people to escape.  She was ultimately imprisoned for her efforts against the Holocaust.  When she was in prison, there was a shortage of skilled administrators, so she was allowed to run the prison, apparently, and was able to continue resisting the Holocaust.  Later, when asked why she risked her life, she apparently said that it was because my grandfather was so wonderful and she could not stand the thought of him being persecuted.

My father had a book, in German, about Hannah Jakobs.  I can't find it any more.  I had it at one time.

In any case, I can state for certain that patent secretaries continue to be extraordinary people. It's a complex job.

My grandfather spent WWII in London, working for Marks & Clerk.  Then, after WWII, he moved to New York City and continued to work for Marks & Clerk, even though he was 65.  He continued to work for them in New York City, until he was 80.  My father opined that he finally had to stop working, because of age-related personality change, where he became so irritable that no one could stand him.

My grandfather kept working so long, because of having lost everything first in the hyper-inflation in Germany under the Weimar republic and a second time as a result of the Holocaust.  The one asset that they couldn't take from him was his education.  He had a Ph.D. in chemistry and spoke English, French, and German well.  This helped him keep working.

It could also be said that Marks & Clerk saved him.

My father felt that his father's story was a measure of the importance of education.  Circumstances could more easily conspire to take your money than to take your knowledge or skill.

In any case, an Attorney from Marks & Clerk in Canada was one of the speakers at IIPS on October 25.  She was speaking on patentability of computer programs in Canada.  Her name is Hetal Kushwaha

This topic is also of extreme interest to me, because I have written a number of patent applications in the field of artificial intelligence.  I also wrote an amicus brief in the SCOTUS case Bilski v Kappos.  The text of my amicus brief is here text of my amicus brief

I've wondered what is left on this topic in view of the latest Supreme court cases, especially the lamentable Alice. But even more so, I was interested because her presence proved that Marks & Clerk is still out there.  So I went.

This was a very interesting CLE and gave me some hope that there can still be some patent applications in the field of computer software.

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