Lou Sorell, a partner in the firm’s Litigation Department, practices in the field of patent law, and focuses primarily on providing patent opinions and related client counseling. He also has extensive experience in patent litigation, as well as patent application preparation and prosecution, for clients in the chemical, petrochemical, pharmaceutical and aerospace industries. Mr. Sorell has represented numerous clients in patent matters, including Teva Pharmaceuticals, ExxonMobil Chemical Corporation, Geneva Pharmaceuticals, Goodrich Corporation and United Technologies Corporation. He has represented clients in diverse areas of technology, including pharmaceuticals, polymers, catalysts, enzymes, textile chemicals, lubricants, fuel additives, metal alloys, lithographic printing plates, semiconductors, aerospace components and roofing products.
Q: What got you interested in IP law?
Lou: I was working as a research chemical engineer on synthetic fuel technology and became involved as a co-inventor on several patents. This was my first real exposure to patent law, and I became interested in the patenting process. After I learned more about patent law, I decided to go to law school. After law school, I first worked as an in-house patent lawyer for a few years, drafting and prosecuting patent applications and working closely with the research and business groups. Subsequently, I entered private practice and worked on a number of patent litigations, including several cases that went to trial. I also handled a number of trademark and copyright matters, although my primary area of expertise was and remains in patent law.
Q: Why do you like IP law?
Lou: It’s just the right mix of technology and law for me. As part of my job, I get to break down complex technical concepts into understandable pieces and integrate those pieces into a legal analysis. If it’s done right, it is a very satisfying experience. In addition, I've had the opportunity to meet lots of interesting people, including a number of technical experts I've worked with in various technologies. Most of these people are college professors, so learning from them is like having a one-on-one seminar with a really great teacher. It's also a lot of fun to work in depth with people like that on a complicated problem, and watch how somebody really smart approaches a difficult problem.
Q: Tell us about your interesting clients and cases.
Lou: Although my formal technical education was in chemical engineering, I've worked on matters involving widely different technologies, including voicemail, perfume, textile chemicals, jet engine components, microwaveable food, plastics and pharmaceuticals. I was co-counsel recently on a case involving patents and copyrights covering inflatable lawn decorations like the inflatable Santa Claus often seen around Christmas. There were some really interesting copyright issues concerning whether various depictions of Santa, a snowman and a stack of jack-o-lanterns were copyrightable expressions or already in the public domain. We also had the opportunity to haul all of these different lawn ornaments into court for the judge to see, which was a lot of fun.