Britten Sessions is a Principal Attorney at Zilka-Kotab PC, a law firm that specializes in tailoring strategies to help individual inventors to Fortune 500-sized companies patent and trademark their inventions. He has assisted companies in monetizing patent assets yielding over $80 million in returns and has advised hundreds of patent enforcements, acquisitions, and licensing. Britten is the Associate Dean of Intellectual Property at Lincoln Law School of San Jose and the Owner of PatentSide LLC.
He graduated from Brigham Young University with his BS in chemical engineering and earned his JD in intellectual property from Santa Clara University School of Law. Britten has been repeatedly recognized as one of the world’s “Top 300 IP Strategists” by Intellectual Asset Management and has been listed on Super Lawyers and Silicon Valley Business Journal’s “Top 40 under 40.”
Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:
- Britten Sessions explains patent prosecution and assisting inventors with licensing
- How technology and photoshop tools bring a multifaceted approach to patent imaging
- Tips to optimize your workflow through technology and provide better service to clients
- Britten talks about how young attorneys can gain valuable experience
- How can mistakes be a learning opportunity?
- Britten discusses how he filled his knowledge of patent law deficiencies by writing a textbook
- Britten shares why the only person holding you back is yourself
- An important reminder: your attitude determines everything in life
In this episode…
There are many legal rights to consider when bringing an idea to life. What steps can you take to protect yourself as an applicant or inventor? How can you utilize the latest technology to optimize your work?
For a system with many vertices, it is better for an inventor to have guidance navigating the various structures. But being a patent attorney is more than filling in the blanks — it is a multifaceted career where technology can greatly enhance your practitioner skills. Britten Sessions assists with protecting and licensing the assets of his clients. He has firsthand experience with patent law and meeting the specific requirements to file, and he’s able to bring a deeper knowledge to the table and provide better service for clients.
In this episode of 15 Minutes, Michael Renfro sits down with Britten Sessions, Principal Attorney at Zilka-Kotab PC, to discuss the stepping stones and stumbling blocks of patent law. Britten talks about photoshop tools that can assist inventors with licensing, learning opportunities to optimize your workflow, and the truth about what is holding you back.
Resources mentioned in this episode:
- Michael Renfro on LinkedIn
- Gladiator Law Marketing
- Britten Sessions on LinkedIn
- Zilka-Kotab PC
- Lincoln Law School of San Jose
- The Change-Your-Life Quote Book by Allen Klein
Sponsor for this episode…
This episode is brought to you by Gladiator Law Marketing, where we deliver tailor-made services to help you accomplish your objectives and maximize your growth potential.
To have a successful marketing campaign and make sure you’re getting the best ROI, your firm needs to have a better website and better content. At Gladiator Law Marketing, we use artificial intelligence, machine learning, and decades of experience to outperform the competition.
To learn more, go to gladiatorlawmarketing.com or schedule a free marketing consultation. You can also send an email to Adam@gladiatorlawmarketing.com.
You’re listening to 15 Minutes, where we feature community leaders sharing what the rest of us should know but likely don’t.
Michael Renfro 0:12
Hello everyone, Michael Renfro here I’m the host of 15 Minutes share your voice where we talk with top notch law firms and lawyers about what it takes to grow a successful law practice. This episode as always, is brought to you by Gladiator Law Marketing where we deliver tailor made services to help you accomplish your objectives and maximize your growth potential to have a successful marketing campaign and make sure you’re getting the best ROI. Your firm does need to have the better website and the better content. At Gladiator Law Marketing, we use artificial intelligence along with machine learning and over a century of experience combined to do just that. To learn more, please go to GladiatorLawMarketing.com. That’s GladiatorLawMarketing.com. And you can schedule a free marketing consultation. Anyway, with that said, today’s guest is out of California. And his name is Britten Sessions. And it is just like Britain. That was the first thing he told me because I wanted to say Brighton, but I went with Britain when I first met you it just felt right. So I’m glad. Glad I went with my instinct there. But we have Britten Sessions and he is in California. What part of California and what’s your practice area? But no, babies? Thank you for being here. I’m sorry. That was kind of an odd introduction. I apologize. Thanks for being here. Bad. How are you doing?
Britten Sessions 1:33
And and tell us a little bit about yourself, sir. Appreciate being being here today, Michael. So I’m based out of San Jose, California. So I have a number of things that are going on in that area of my firm, and that I’m part of is based there. I also have an IP clinic. That’s part of the USPTO, the United States Patent and Trademark Office clinic program that is based there as well out of Lincoln Law School. So everything that I do is based out of San Jose, California, and it’s a beautiful area.
Michael Renfro 2:08
It is everything I imagined it is I’ve been down there. And I love it. The only it was a hard choice between Colorado and California. When I finally left the East Coast, let’s just put it that way. They both had a lot of the same things that I wanted to be a part of. So I’ve lived in the mountains and on the coast. So but the mountains on the East Coast, I’m sure those are nothing like the Rockies that we actually have here on the west. So it sounds like most of what you do, is it business and trademark related than as well as in regards to the law practice? Is that the bulk of it? Or is there some other things that you do as well.
Britten Sessions 2:43
So I’m in a real kind of particular niche. So within the legal industry, obviously, you have the general field of intellectual property, right. And so IP relates to patents and trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets generally, within that particular field, usually, there’s a separation between what they call hard science and soft science or hard IP versus soft IP. So soft IP is that which does not require a scientific type background, right. And so I am on the side, I’m on the science side, my technical training is as a chemical engineer. And then just for fun, I enjoy working with a lot of software and computer related things. So on a day to day type basis, I’m working with everything from electrical engineering, or computer science type inventions to chemical and derivatives and batteries and chemicals and things of that nature. So it’s a kind of a wide gamut, with technology,
Michael Renfro 3:43
all kind of centered around technology, though, for sure is what seems like
Britten Sessions 3:46
precisely Yes. And so most, most that are working within the field of patent law, either choose to do patent litigation, or what’s called patent prosecution now, on what is not common is that patent prosecution is not necessarily that which is engaging with with the courts. Patent Prosecution is in fact, the interaction between the lawyer or the representative of the inventor and the patent office. Right. So it’s that dialogue that’s going back and forth, not as the prosecution aspects. So usually, there’s a decision as to whether or not you go on the litigation side or the prosecution side within the field of patents. But and so for the most part, my practice has been within the patent prosecution side where I’m representing applicants and inventors before the patent office. The one caveat is that a large part of my practice is in fact not that because within the field of patents, there’s all these sub niches where you really have for example, everything from him brokers on the buy and sell patterns on behalf of entities. You have even pen auctioneers that literally are auctioning off pens and So as you would see for, you know, vintage type cars, you also have a licensing where that, again gets gets involved with, with assisting entities with either buying, selling or monetizing patents. And so a lot of a lot of verticals. Yeah. So a lot of my practice has been focused on not only patent prosecution, but additionally, answering the fundamental question that inventors ask, and that is, can I make money off of my patents? They have they they have this great idea, this great invention, it gets protection. But then the question is, is it just fancy wallpaper? Because that is often what ends up happening, they put it on their wall. And that’s kind of the end of the story. And sometimes they start asking the question, Well, should I? And can I be making money off of my pants that I’ve paid a lot of money to actually receive? And so I’ve stepped in, over the last decade or so, with assisting inventors and answering that question. And so my, my practice is a little bit different in that regard only because not only do I get to do patent prosecution, but I also get to assist inventors, with with monetizing, are assisting them to get returns on their inventions and their patents as well. You know,
Michael Renfro 6:20
you kind of sound almost like a counselor, as well as a or a consultant, if you will. Even better, but it sounds like you have them laying down on your couch. Like let’s figure this.
Britten Sessions 6:30
You know, it is it is kind of the case, though, because on one hand as a patent prosecution attorney, you’re a member kind of, of the team. Oh, sorry. Go ahead. Are you are assisting them with getting protection for their inventions as a licensor where you’re assisting them with licensing their assets? Yeah, you are kind of getting involved with the business of patent, buying and selling and making money of
Michael Renfro 6:56
off of that as well. Yeah, I funny enough, I don’t know if you know, but I got a patent applied in 2009, and got a patent in 2011. Of course, I’ve found out some mistakes that I made. And some things that I didn’t know, like one of the things that my attorney unfortunately didn’t tell me. And I thought he was a really good attorney, I still think that he’s probably a good guy at heart. But he never informed me of the fact that there were fees that had to be made and maintenance fees. Right. I didn’t know that I thought I got a patent. And that was good for 20 years. You know, that’s one of the many factors and of course, also one of the factors I learned. I didn’t hear you mentioned it, but I’m sure you’ll you’ll say it, but it seems like every patent office pretty much has a dedicated artists to do all the drawings and to do all the because it usually has to be a very specific way. If I remember, the drawings has a very specific way, which I thought was really interesting. I was like, I can’t just take pictures that were like, nah.
Britten Sessions 7:56
Yeah, it’s true that many patent off our patent law firms will have a dedicated pan gerar, or designer, they will assist in that regard. In my personal practice, I’ve done probably 99.5% of all the drawings myself, so I have my my, my background is a little diverse, I have a fascination with. Back when I was doing my undergrad with cameras and photography, I got involved with Photoshop. My claims to fame during that timeframe was the one of my microbiology, endo fights, actually got on the front page of the National Journal. And that was, was some of my Photoshop type imaging of these, you know, microbes that are underneath a microscope. So since those days, that gave me the at least a foundation for an understanding of how to work with Photoshop and, and digital tools and things of that nature, which kind of allowed me to get into the field of doing a lot of the drawings myself. So for the most part, you know, I enjoy the multifaceted approach of bringing all the skills to the table at the same time.
Michael Renfro 9:07
Well, you know, there’s a difference between being I mean, everybody knows the old, the old saying, right jack of all trades, master of none. But you your trade is Jack of the it’s not a jack of all trades. And that’s, that’s my point. It’s a master of the entirety of patents, rather than just one piece of it. I think
Britten Sessions 9:30
that’s a very nice way of saying that, Michael, in other ways, is to say, I have many interests. And I like learning a lot. And which I
Michael Renfro 9:37
think, yeah, but it’s all related. I mean, difference when we get scattered, you know what I mean? Because, yes, and I truly mean that I myself am guilty of the scattering where like, I’ll have three projects on the table, and they’re all very different than one another, which is not what I heard on here recently, where I still have free projects, but they’re all just like, how do you say stepping stones to the next one, so it only makes sense. So I’m not spreading myself as then number one, because I’m not trying to learn this and understand it and, and implement it right? And then this and understand, it’s just one thing, and I’m learning all the different streams, if you will, the off stream, right, the little
Britten Sessions 10:15
things that is very, very much true. The one, the one thing that I think I would touch upon the way you indicated is that everything that I do, relates in some way to technology, right? So the more that I learned about technology, and the more I learned about optimizing my flow my systems, the more I learned about, you know, this or that, and then in the day, it allows me to be in fact, a better practitioner. So Oh, yeah. So over the years, I’ve done everything from become, in addition to being an attorney, I’m also a website developer, and I manage. I manage a bunch of different websites, I’ve built them, I’ve managed them. I’ve gone from, you know, 20 years ago, learning how to, to build the fundamentals to actually been able to deploy in under an hour, an entire website, with everything that’s needed. So right, but the reality is that, on one hand, we may say, Well, those are just kind of fun, son, side hobbies. But the reality is that it’s more than that, because every time I learn more about a new skill, or this or that, it allows me to bring that to the table to provide better services for my own clients. And if I have a software developer, I can come to the table and say, yes, I’ve developed my own software resets myself, I am and it’s really allowed me to, to, I think, have a much more of a empathetic view with inventors that kind of be sitting in the same seat as them and and a lot of the same problems and the frustrations. I’ve been there. And I’ve seen that, and I’ve done that as well. So it allows me to kind of, I think, empathize with them. At a very real level.
Michael Renfro 11:54
Well, I’ll throw this into, you know, I would not say I would be the first to say, learning website development and software development, it still goes hand in hand, because technology is running on one or the other. It doesn’t matter where it is. But technology is always running on some form of code at at the rudimentary level. And you understand that, right? I mean, even if we get a kid’s toy, those kids toy have a little chip in it that tells it everything to do. Right. Yeah. And personally, when you’re talking about and, you know, this is obviously it’s my personal opinion, but I see it is really just, again, back to what I say, you’re fine pointing or fine tuning, all those little points that allow you like you said to be an even better, I believe the same thing we do SEO right. And we only do it for lawyers. So we’ve niched it down to attorneys. And part of that, though, is that like we all, I won’t say every single one of us, but most of us have been in the technology game for years. I myself, built my first website back in 1998. And it was more because I wanted to put my mom’s artwork up. And I’m like, the web is where it’s at thing. You know, it’s just makes sense, right? So I’ve learned these things along the way. And I have this saying, and I’m sure you know it, but I just say fr now, but it means everything happens for a reason, right? And the reality is all these things that I used to think were useless skills, or what’s really funny is a camera that I bought the sat around for four years is all the sudden now being used, it always ends up coming back, right. And those little tiny skills that I thought were non related, if you will, are actually highly related. And I will say this, any website, any software, I mean, to me, that’s again, just just to re emphasize it. That’s the basis of technology for anything we’re doing. Right? I mean, it used to be just software. And now we all we all know that you have tons of SaaS sites out there and past sites and all these, you know, even what is it? I think you just call it I asked right infrastructure as a, as a as a service. So and almost all those now are web based, right? And I’m sure you remember, like I do when you used to have it was all on a disk. Yeah. But they I think it’s awesome. It allows your clients no matter who they are, because I imagine that if you are in the technology field, and the clients are patents, that most of them are technology based through the patents themselves. You know, even if it is a toy that does something fancy, right? It’s still a technology, a piece of technology. I would imagine that that makes them feel very comfortable knowing that you understand so many different sides of it. And yeah, that’s doing patent. And that’s I
Britten Sessions 14:33
think, in addition to understanding technology from many different angles,
Michael Renfro 14:39
all the way to software, right.
Britten Sessions 14:42
I also had an opportunity to wear many different hats. So I wear my legal hat as a practitioner, but I also am an educator so you can see behind me I have a digital interaction screen where I can interact with with students in real Time and actually teach them anywhere around the world. So I currently do currently have a program that you’re teaching. I started from scratch, and Master’s program and LLM program. I also have a certificate one year type program. All of these are grants through Lincoln Law Schools, San Jose. So I literally created from scratch not only a clinic, where students get the opportunity to work with patents or trademarks, real Patent and Trademark real clients. Real sensorial experience. It’s a structured and governed just like a normal law firm. But in addition to that, I mean, that is many can recall from law school, law school teaches you a lot of the theoretical, it’s a test tube type analysis of what could possibly occur, or usually go wrong in society. And but the reality is that sometimes a lot of the theories of law school don’t always align with practice. And so and that, and that disconnect, sometimes I think, is a frustration for new attorneys wrong where they say, well, law school teaches me this, but in practice, it’s not always that way. So what we try to do is with my clinic program, and with all the different other things that we set up, it’s trying to branch out, essentially, build over that gap. So the students when they finish law school, not only understand the theoretical side, but also the pragmatic reality of how do you actually do things, if you want to get something filed? How do you actually do it yourself, etc. So, so I have very much kind of the a hat of understanding from a theoretical point of view of how the law should operate. But I also have my practical day to day type basis where I understand the practical realities. And then not only that, but I’ve also gotten involved over the years with different lobbying groups, and in particular in relation to patent rights. And that has given me a government type perspective, those considerations as well. So that when I come to the table, I think that one of the things that I can add is that I often can see a big picture from many different perspectives. Whereas on is they often say that experience is sometimes the best teacher. And it’s very much that way that the more experience we have, the more perspectives the more the more we can see things from from different angles. And I think all that is very beneficial within the legal industry, because ultimately, the law is not necessarily, it’s applied, often how we understand it. Now, the courts are there to try to provide some objective standards for interpretation. But there is often a lot of wiggle room of whether or not how closely the facts align with the law. And that ability to align facts with law, obviously, is the basis for almost the entire legal industry. But being able to be able to effectively do that, and to understand not only what your best arguments are, but to anticipate the worst arguments, because that is often the basis of contention is being able to do that. And so if you can anticipate not only the your best for your worst type positions, I think that puts you in a much stronger position to actually advocate on behalf of your client.
Michael Renfro 18:23
I, there’s a couple of points that I want to come back to number one, you talk about the you call it a disconnect. And what I mean by that is when they go from the theoretical law school to actually being in, in the real world, right? And to me, it’s it’s really more like a slap in the face. And I mean that it’s a hard slap in the face that, hey, it’s not going to be exactly like we taught you in school, because there’s no way you can teach what you what you folks go through, there really is no way you can. And when you you know when you talk about teaching it. The funny thing is, I’ve noticed, you know, over the years looking at what all attorneys do, but more than half I would say you know that this is my guest, you know better than I do. But I would say more than half of what you end up doing is studying those past cases to do exactly what you said, it’s all about what happened in this case, what happened in this and you try to look at as many different cases that have as many different angles of outcome. So you have an idea of how to get the outcome you’re trying to achieve. Sure. Right. And I will come back to say, I 100% agree and I think the world has changed. Bretton and what I mean by that is I don’t know how old you are, but I’m guessing you’re probably at least 40 having to have done all this. Yes, you don’t look at you don’t look it but when you talk about all that you’ve done. So what I will say you know, I’m 50 and I sure you you get this but there was a time where experience did not have the the weight that it does today. And now You’ll even go on to indeed. And they will have it that if you’ve been doing it for five years, we really don’t care if you went to school. Right? It doesn’t like it finally has gotten to the point where experience equals being a master, if you have done it long enough, you probably know more than any person graduating with a master’s degree in that area. Even if you never did schooling, but you’ve got 10 years under your belt of actual experience. Who
Britten Sessions 20:26
would you want to hire? Yeah, no, I think that that’s a that’s a great point, Michael, because for me, when I was in law school, it was back when the when the recession hit back in 2008 timeframe, right. And in during that timeframe, I was asking myself, well, how can I best position myself in order to get a job. And I ended up over in Europe, and I was with a very large law firm over there getting some international type experience. And it was a fantastic experience. But one of the things I learned during that timeframe, every US base attorney, they came over said the same exact thing of this. And they said, ultimately, we are not hiring or or clients are demanding that we not train on client dollars, which means that in order to position yourself in today’s society, come to the table with experience. So I left that I really listened to that. And I came back, and I finished my law school. And I said, all right. When I graduate, I want to have as much experience under my belt as possible. So literally law school, I was on campus, perhaps 50% of the time, and the rest of the 50%. I was over in Europe getting an international experience. I was in the federal courts for almost six months, as as an intern to a federal judge. And so I really got all these different perspectives, I was working full time in a patent law firm, to again, get as much experience as is as I possibly could. So which meant that by the time I finished law school, I had perhaps more experienced than a typical associate, I understood how to do things. I understood what not to do, which is some of the some of the biggest things that I think new new attorneys are trying to figure out or is exactly what not to do.
Michael Renfro 22:19
Right. Yes, I agree with that. Because it’s that’s what I think that’s really what they’re learning in that first five years is what not to do, because they’ve told you everything to do in school. They didn’t tell you what not it’s like the way that athletes are. And I hate to interrupt, but I just wanted to get it’s like the way athletes are not prepared for a professional athlete being a professional athlete. Right? No, I agree paired for it. I don’t think attorneys. And again, I think that I don’t know if you’ve ever done this, but maybe that’s something that somebody can do is and I hear that that’s part of what you do. But maybe there could be something like a secondary school for attorneys where they’re working, but they still get to go to some classes where people like, Hey, what are you dealing with, like a more like a, almost like an anonymous group for attorneys to share their their, their, their woes? And I know that sounds funny, but you know, if you hear other people going through it, then you get you get that back and forth. And that was better.
Britten Sessions 23:16
That was exactly why am I call that when I graduated, I was one of the lucky few. Because I got a job. Right? Now, if you look at my graduating class, when you’re after graduation, only about you know, 50 60% of those that graduated had a job and of those that had a job, only about half of them are required in legal education, which meant that literally 25 to 33% of my graduating class had a legal job one year after graduation, I mean that the numbers are to be blunt, quite
Michael Renfro 23:49
depressing. flipside of that is 7075. Yeah, 70 to 75% of your class didn’t have a job that related to their seven year degree.
Britten Sessions 24:01
Yeah, correct. And in fact, many of them went back to their prior employment that they had prior to law school, the daemon or the job, education. Right. And so so what I did is I took a step back, and I said, you know, my approach was not rocket science. It just meant getting in the mud as much as possible and figuring things out. And that’s kind of my approach. I’ve always been a little bit of a fighter. Things have not always been easy for me, as a young as a young kid, I had, I had a heart condition and that heart condition meant that there were certain a certain limitations direction and one of those one of those limitations meant that I was always a very small guy. So I was my my, my 16 year old license showed me just talking barely five feet and 90 pounds and that was that was most of my life. But, but one of the things that resulted from all that is that anytime anybody said I could not do something there, that was the perfect thing. rotation for me to prove them otherwise, yeah, thank
Michael Renfro 25:02
Britten Sessions 25:04
so when when I selected my my major from undergrad and chemical engineering, I base it off of essentially one thing, what is the hardest major for me? Now, in hindsight now, that may not have been the wisest move, but the thing to do, right, and the illustrates the main thing, and that is that if there is a challenge, I like to challenge and I like to, to, to go after it. So when I saw when I finished law school, and I was able to have some success there, I took a step back and said, Well, again, my approach wasn’t rocket science, what can I do to assist other students in that regard, and that’s why I started the clinic program, and the clinic is literally that it is a clinic to make mistakes. And that is something that I think is is not always seen in law school, law school, is often focused on the perfection of of getting that perfect, mate, creating friends all about perfection. It’s all about creating that perfect argument that that winning argument that that that argument that will sway over the jury, you know, it’s it, the focus is so very much on that, that often we we’ve perhaps focus unnecessarily on the goal of perfection. Now, the reality is that we should all be striving for that, and in some way, shape or form. But my point is that there’s not always a forum where you can just utterly failed. And that is what I want students to do, I want students to, I often will tell my wife, I want our kids to fail as much as possible, before they leave our house, because by the time they they leave our house, I want them to have all their mistakes worked out. And it’s the same approach with my students, I want them to fail as much as possible. While they’re part of my program. Why? Because hopefully, they can learn from their mistakes, make that again, in a setting where it could cost them a job. And that is what I really want them to do. So they clinic program is precisely that. It
Michael Renfro 27:07
is I hope, and that’s why I was saying I really, I would like to see them clone it. And what I mean by that is, the only unfortunate part is, you know, if I’m a personal injury attorney, I’m not going to be able to go over there. And you know, and if I’m a criminal defense on that same note, you know, I mean, it’s and I mean that, it would be nice to see other practice areas, if not just somebody even have the idea of doing it and encompassing of all, and it wouldn’t be that hard, because you could just get one specialist or one person with great experience from each one like yourself, that kind of represents each field. And that way, they have a place to go, hey, you know, I made this mistake, I made this mistake, I did this. And I want to I want to touch back on the word failure just for a minute, but because for me, and I want to, then I’m going to ask you yours. But for me, I don’t, to me the only failure and I truly mean this, the only failure is when you do not try again. If you quit and you do not try again that and only that is failure. And in my personal opinion, anything else is a hurdle, a challenge, or a part of learning. I now consider all those things, challenges, hurdles. They’re to me, they’re they’re Pivotal, transformative, transformational moments, right? There are moments that I am allowed to change for the better. Or I can continue going on down the same road be a little insane by doing the same thing expecting a different result, right?
Britten Sessions 28:30
No, I agree with that. And I think that often when we look when we think of mistakes, it’s almost a linear type relationship where we say I’m starting now, I make a mistake. And what the world often will say is brick wall, you’re done. Now you make a mistake, you’re you’re out. No. Whereas in all reality, it’s completely a cyclical type progression where you know what, learn from your mistake, move beyond it and rise above it. And that’s for good. Yeah, go ahead. No, go good. So and I think for me, that’s one of the biggest things that the funny part is, if somebody were to ask me worse, what were some of the biggest mistakes I’ve made in my career? I have a hard time responding. Because I don’t view them necessarily.
Michael Renfro 29:17
I get it. I get it. What were some of your best? Let me say this then. And I know you’ll get this what were some of the hurdles or challenges that gave you the most knowledge on the other side. So biggest, you know, something that was a big challenge, frustrated, whatever you want to call it, right? But the the flip side of it going through it gave you such a incredibly great day. What’s one of those bigger ones? You know what I mean? It really stands out.
Britten Sessions 29:44
I think that early in my career, one of the things that so I ended up with an what’s called a pan boutique firm, and which is a firm that only does a specific area, right. In this case, it was a patent prosecution,
Michael Renfro 29:59
where people Off marketing for just saying precisely the exact same.
Britten Sessions 30:03
And so the larger the law firm that you’re in, usually the more so I always say there’s a traditional aspect of training getting, getting an attorney is up to speed, right things of that nature, this law firm is a little bit more of the Wild West. Yep, you sink or you swim, you learn, or you don’t you make the guy
Michael Renfro 30:22
that festival or girl, excuse me, you find the person that successful, that’s my opinion, and you mock What the heck they’re doing, precisely don’t go down.
Britten Sessions 30:31
So that’s early on in my career, I yearn for unwanted a formal training program. And that’s, that’s kind of how I am and I received a lot of not necessarily formal training. But just a lot of hands on training, I got involved with a variety of different types of experiences that honestly were above my paygrade. And we’re above my experience level. But I got I got pulled in on these and it opened my eyes. But one of the things I saw through all this, all these different experiences, was sometimes when you look at a beautiful painting, and if you painted it yourself, you often don’t see the beautiful painting, what you see are the deficiencies in the right of word is the mistakes
Michael Renfro 31:17
that you made isolates the beautiful work you created.
Britten Sessions 31:21
So when I was analyzing my own experience, what I saw were often deficiencies and what I viewed as a as a complete set of tools that I wanted to come to the table with. So early in my career, what did I do? Well, you can either complain about it and try to get somebody else to take action, or you can take action yourself. And so I had assuming
Michael Renfro 31:46
you did the latter, you did the first one, right, you put it on somebody?
Britten Sessions 31:50
Well, I did produce. And they did, you know give me a lot of hands on. But what I ended up doing so close. Right. And so in combination with prior to actually formally starting the clinical program, my very first class was all about patent practice. And and what I ended up doing to be clear,
Michael Renfro 32:13
when you say patent practice, are you talking about the practice of patent law in that sense? Is that what it is that what the focus it
Britten Sessions 32:20
is, but it’s the pragmatic reality of how do you function as a practitioner and lawyer in this space, from A to Z, almost all our day to day, if you will, it’s a day to day aspect, but it’s much more encompassing, where rather than just looking at a particular niche of patent prosecution is taking the expansive approach of from birth of the patent all the way to the lifecycle where the patent ends, everything that may actually occur within that entire lifecycle. And this was during the day of the Apple versus Samsung case, which kind of touched on it created this pivotal moment for most people, because most people really didn’t know about patent law. Right. And yet, suddenly, there was this international case. And it related, so to speak to everyone why, because we all have some smartphone. And it was during that heyday of kind of the emergence of smartphones, and also
Michael Renfro 33:19
another wild wild west by the Labor precisely.
Britten Sessions 33:23
So what I ended up doing was using that case as the basis for a book that I my very first textbook that I wrote. And so I would go today, every day, I’d go off to work, and I’d be working on licensing and patents, and patent prosecution. And I come home at night. And, and I would work on this textbook, and it was all about going towards teaching this class about patent practice from A to Z, as well. A few months later, as my wife and I joked at the time, I my my wife was pregnant with our very first child, and I delivered before she delivered by and I and while she was miserable in bed, I was typing away ferociously and studying every night literally for in for a long time is many, many months,
Michael Renfro 34:16
almost almost the same number of months. I imagined this Yes.
Britten Sessions 34:19
We’re having a similar little competition there. But he was asking, just to perspective, what year are we talking about? If you don’t um, that would have been 2012 you though okay. Okay, cool. So 10 years ago, wow. It was about 10 years ago. And what resulted was this was literally a 600 page, behemoth textbook. One of the things that a lot of writings there was a lot of writing, but it was a lot of research. And by the time I finished that book, I filled in my own deficiencies. Oh, yeah. I mean, you you because search that One of the things I mean, you have to take a step back, I spent two years in France, I was learning French I was there. In fact, as a missionary, I was also working with refugees. I was doing kind of a to z. And when I came back from France, I ended up being a French teacher and I wrote my, a French textbook. And one of the one of my conclusions from that experience was that you as a teacher, are often the best teacher for yourself. They, they often say that when you teach, you learn more than the students, and that is 100%. True,
Michael Renfro 35:39
May I interject, just because I love that point. I always say this, number one, I believe that you are never too old to learn. And it’s a perfect time to say this, okay? And the teacher, teacher comment, I’m going to come back to it, but in concerns to mistakes, I’m 36 years in sales, I still make mistakes. And those mistakes are what allowed me to become continually become a better salesperson, right. And also, also keeping that eagerness which I clearly hear in you, I’m not going to stop learning until I die, because if I stopped learning, I stopped living, I stopped moving forward, right. And one of the things that I teach, because I teach too, I do a lot of training and sales and that kind of stuff to help people. And I’m actually going to be doing coaching here real soon, where I kind of allow this all to the world, and instead of giving it to just the businesses that I work for. But anything that I ever say to anybody, and I tell them, you know, if you if you really want to learn, take this approach, anything that you say to somebody, which means anything I say to anybody, I’m saying it to myself at the same time, and I know it I always notice anything I’m saying, if I’m preaching, teaching, whatever, I’m saying it to myself and myself, here’s at the end. That’s why, by the way, this was the big interjection. That’s why I no longer say I’m sorry, I will apologize. And I will say My bad. But if I saying if I’m saying I’m sorry, that’s me telling myself, I must sorry, person, it really does wear down the psyche over the years if you just keep saying it because you become this sorry, person.
Britten Sessions 37:17
That’s right. That’s right. And I think that, you know, to that end, one of the things that I that I concluded after going through this whole experience was the you know, what, we are often the greatest limiter to that which we know,
Michael Renfro 37:32
we all have a critic for sure. So why? Well, we definitely
Britten Sessions 37:34
are our biggest critic. But one of the things that, again, that I learned through this is our potential to learn is there really unlimited and the greatest, you know, the greatest person that’s going to prevent us from learning is our own selves. And there’s the Thank you. Great, great example. One of the things that I love to listen to are TED talks, I just find them very inspiring. But there’s this TED talk of this young boy from South Africa, and he’s about a teenager. And and there is a, you may have seen it, there’s this this eye disease condition, the results in a lot of people and the primary basis for that is because they do not have sufficient water to take a bath.
Michael Renfro 38:20
Right? So, boy, yeah, so this boy
Britten Sessions 38:24
invented and came up with, it ended up being a patented system to South Africa for a waterless bath. And it can take care of removing the infections from around the eyes such that it resolves the problem. Now, when he was giving this TED talk, he said, If I having a dumb phone, can do all my research on a dumb phone, get if I can write my entire patent application on a dumb phone. And if I can figure out a solution to this problem that is vaccine my country, what is stopping you from coming up with solutions that are much larger than that, and that, I think is really kind of pivotal. We, in fact that limit or control our destiny, and that is very 100%
Michael Renfro 39:16
very well, I have you know, there’s and these are obviously not my sayings, in fact, just to be fair, and I have multiple books, I’m not gonna sit here and show you all but the one I’m reading most recently came out a while back around 2000 Have you seen this book? I haven’t. It’s called the Change Your Life quote book over 600 wise and wonderful quotes to inspire and motivate. And I just want to share with you the very first one, because if I ended up choking up here a little bit of something I do when I when I feel the spirit in me and that’s all I can say because I try not to get political or religious, but it deals with The fact that it’s a to me it’s never too late, right? Doesn’t matter if you’re seven or seven. To change one’s life, start immediately. Do it flamboyantly. No exception. Yeah.
Britten Sessions 40:14
Well, wait. I agree with that. 100%.
Michael Renfro 40:17
And I didn’t do it because it’s and my whole point of it to me, I take it further. Because here’s what we have to remember. Thought is the it’s the Creator. Once you think it, it is absolutely possible. Period. You have made it that’s that’s what this world is one of the beautiful things about it is the moment you think it, it is now a possibility. It’s whether or not you will bring it to volition.
Britten Sessions 40:45
No, I agree. And I think that when I look over my my own life, my dad is an attorney as well. And practice area
Michael Renfro 40:54
or a different practice areas. Same right now a completely
Britten Sessions 40:56
different employment law representing employees. There you go. Okay. So a completely different, different practice. But one of the things that I always admired about my dad growing up, was that he would get up every morning with a smile on his face, and he loved what he did. And not only that, I saw that my my dad wrote, he had his own news column, and in the Orange County Register, growing up for literally almost 2530 years. He wrote it in different number of different newspapers. He also published he had his own textbooks, he had his son where the writing comes from. He also taught. And so when I graduated, when I graduated from law school, I had some great examples in my life. And I said, you know, if Dad can do it, I can do it as well. Now, the funny part is that my plan, my 30 year old, or my 30 projection plan, was included a lot of the things that what I didn’t know, is I would literally tear off my 30 year plan. And under five years, where I ended up, I think, to date, I’ve written close to, you know, over 10 different textbooks and books in the field of IP. I was actually in 2016. It was it was a neat year for me, one because I had the opportunity to be chair of the high technology section of the Santa Clara barre County Bar Association, where I got to lead out with a lot of IP practitioners in that space. But literally by year 2016. I was in this frenzy for so many years after law school of getting as much experience and knowledge as possible. By 2016. I received the Silicon Valley Business Journal’s top 40, under 40. And also by that year, I had actually, I had been ranked as one of the top 300 IP strategists in the world, which is kind of a crazy thought. Now I’ve been able to, in addition to that being ranked by Super Lawyers, I have since 2016. To present, I have continually been been been ranked by a lot of those bodies as far as ranking of attorneys. And when that all kind of happened in 2016, I took a step back and said, Well, where do I go from here? If I’ve cleared off my goal list and in and literally only a few years, where do I go from here?
Michael Renfro 43:33
But you know what? Someone like you I know, I just know you’re you’re gonna have bolster until the day you no longer breathe. And I see that I could see that I you have the same spirit as an entrepreneur, but not necessarily. I wouldn’t call it an entrepreneur. It’s just a fighting like you said, a fighting spirit you want or what you need funny
Britten Sessions 43:56
that the you indicate entrepreneur because I’m also starting a side business as we speak.
Michael Renfro 44:01
Well, that’s part of the fight experience. If you’re if you’re a fighter, it’s only a matter of time. And you already started. I mean, like, Come on, dude, you’ve already started some businesses, if you will. But no, I I continue to love the folks that these I Rise25 goes out and finds you folks for me to interview and I believe fr everything happens for a reason. Almost every single person that I interview has the same type of this is what success is, you know, and one of the things to what I mean by success to us, I’m not talking about financial, talking about the success of living life and being happy. I’ve talked to so many happy people. We all have bad days, but like a true difference between being happy and portraying happiness. And you talk to someone and feel it is true.
Britten Sessions 44:55
In fact, I know that we’re coming up on the hour here, Michael.
Michael Renfro 44:59
I did One other habit, unfortunately, I do have a hard stop and five minutes I apologize wrong. So
Britten Sessions 45:04
one of the lessons when I learned and learned in France, spending time amongst a lot of refugees, I learned that you know what? Your attitude that determines everything in life. And not only that, I remember one day, I was eating a French sandwich, it’s called a coke Misu just kind of a cheese sandwich with a little egg on top by delicious. And I remember eating dinner with this Frenchman. And this Frenchman looked at me and said, You know, I feel like a million a millionaire, eating a $5 sandwich. And I realized that you know, what, that I think in a sentence encapsulates my view of life. You get out of life, where you want to live as you want, if you want to see everything as a brick wall, the middle of everything is a brick wall. But if you see what is
Michael Renfro 45:57
your gonna get to, that’s a hard life.
Britten Sessions 46:01
And but as my mom would always tell me growing up, make it a stepping stone, small stumbling blocks. And she would say that every time that I had a failure mistake and say that I’ll be making stepping stones, not stumbling blocks, the restaurant and so you know, my practice and my career has focused on that aspect. And it’s something that I think one of my most rewarding things that I get to do is to help a company, avoid making those mistakes, of learning from my own mistakes of making something less steppingstone as a business plan, as a way to monetize as a way to simply protect as a way to assist students with actually learning in a very real manner. And all these things, all these things have really do I enjoy what I do, I do and probably
Michael Renfro 46:52
will tell that man, you’ve had a smile on your face that from the beginning,
Britten Sessions 46:56
I probably enjoyed a little bit too much.
Michael Renfro 46:59
You’re gonna love this, you’re gonna love this. And and I hope, I really hope you get this because this is your type of book, I’m just telling you. I love every single quote in it. But so the way they do it, too is they section and alphabetically. But for instance, a covers two topics, right? Actions speak louder than words, which by the way, is my number one favorite thing. I agree. And then alter your attitude. So I wanted to read one from the alter your attitude side, and I think you will absolutely get this based on the perfect way to wrap it up. I think you’ll like it. A happy person is not a person in a certain set of circumstances, but rather a person with a certain set of attitudes. Yeah,
Britten Sessions 47:39
I agree. 100%. pleasure talking to you today, Michael, you can do to businesses, no, in Silicon Valley, thinking I might reach out
Michael Renfro 47:49
to you anyway, man, Pat holder, and I have a lot of ideas. And we have some technology that we’re coming up on. Yeah. So all about,
Britten Sessions 47:58
it’s all about how can we sometimes we get so focused on the financial aspect, we lose the human aspect. So companies and people know that they can call me and I won’t necessarily charge them. In fact, I won’t charge them for simply talking. And that’s that’s something I’ve made kind of a point in my career, so very much appreciate talking to you.
Michael Renfro 48:17
I clearly don’t don’t run out. I’ll be a little late. I have thoroughly enjoyed meeting you. Britten and I truly, I feel honored man, I truly do. I hope I hope that that comes across because I really feel honored. You’re one. You know, I literally said it to somebody today. We were tweeting back and forth, right on a social channel. But we were talking about you can really spot the real ones, the people that talk the talk and back it with their walk, not the people that just talk, talk, talk, talk talk, and there’s really a difference. And you can, you know, sometimes it isn’t only through talking, but through talking. Truly if you have the perception and I’ve I feel like I do because I look forward and I read the signs. Then you you know when you you’re meeting someone and you have the privilege of meeting, what I think is a messenger man, and you are so again, it’s a privilege and honor, thank you so much. I will probably reach out to you. I might just reach out to you to have a conversation and say how you doing? It sounds like guys, we’ll be back in a year from now. Sounds good. Have a great one.
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