Douglas J. Kline is a partner in Goodwin Procter’s Intellectual Property Group, where he concentrates his practice on all aspects of intellectual property litigation, particularly patent infringement matters and other disputes related to the enforcement of intellectual property rights. Doug received his law degree from Suffolk University Law School, graduating magna cum laude. He received his B.S. in mechanical engineering from Tufts University. Prior to joining Goodwin Procter in 2005, Mr. Kline was a partner at Testa, Hurwitz & Thibeault in Boston, where he chaired the Patent and Intellectual Property Practice Group and Intellectual Property Litigation Group.
Q: What got you interested in IP Law?
Doug: In high school, I tended toward math and science and always did well in those subjects. I studied engineering in college, having been encouraged by my parents to pursue a degree that, in their view, had at least reasonable job prospects. After working for a few years as an engineer in manufacturing, I began to develop the strong sense that working as a practicing engineer wasn’t for me. I considered a variety of options available to me, and law school emerged as the most attractive one to pursue (business school and the Peace Corps being some of the others). I was attracted to the intellectual discipline required to study law. During law school, I began to consider patent law as a specific field. It was a logical fit in light of my engineering background and, again, the job prospects were reasonable. From the first day I started working as an IP attorney, I have loved it and knew that I made the right decision.
Q: Why do you like IP law?
Doug: I love the variety of technologies that we deal with, and the complexity of intellectual property law. We spend time with some of the brightest scientists on earth – as clients, inventors and experts – and they teach us about fascinating and far-ranging technologies. We become, briefly, experts ourselves in areas we could never have expected to know anything about. I studied mechanical engineering in college, but today I understand, for example, how our immune system fights disease, how semiconductors are made and how blood clots cause strokes. I also love that the law we deal with is equally complex, which can give you a real edge over your opponent. There is a lot of room available to crawl around inside the patent statute and the case law to develop a strategy that will help your client get where it needs to be.
Q: Tell us about your interesting cases and clients.
Doug: We handle a lot of patent litigation for adidas, and you might be surprised how much technology goes into athletic shoes. It is very interesting to work with a client that operates at the intersection of biomechanics and fashion. Adidas often finds itself in the crosshairs of independent inventors who are convinced that they have revolutionized shoe design and their bold new designs are being copied by all the big companies. In one case we handled, a small company accused adidas of infringing a dozen or more patents that the small company argued, as near as we could determine, covered generally bumps on shoe soles. We were able to prove that bumps were not all that revolutionary considering shoes have had bumps for quite a long time, and certainly well before the company’s patents. In another case, concerning cervical cancer detection tests, Duncan Greenhalgh, who is another member of our IP Group here at Goodwin, and I had to determine whether certain chemicals would prevent cells from clumping. Duncan conceived a series of experiments that we wanted to test before we asked our expert to run them. The problem was, we needed a healthy supply of human cells to run the experiments. So, Duncan and I spent one, very long afternoon in lab coats repeatedly poking our fingers with stylets and bleeding into test tubes – anything for the client.