HFZ’s Michael Zimmmerman Selected to Best Lawyers in America® Guide for Patent Law

Michael Zimmerman, a patent attorney with Hanley Flight & Zimmerman, is included in the 2024 edition of The Best Lawyers in America® released today. This honor places Michael among the top lawyers in the Chicago area for patent law.

Every year Best Lawyers analyzes more than 13 million lawyer evaluations to compile its rankings, which are based on peer review and feedback. More information about Best Lawyers’ methodology is available here.

HFZ’s Mark Hanley and Mark Zimmerman Named 2023 “Patent Stars” by IP STARS

Hanley Flight & Zimmerman Co-Founders Mark Hanley and Mark Zimmerman have been honored as “Patent Stars” in IP STARS’ annual guide to the top intellectual property attorneys in Illinois and nationwide in the United States.

More information about HFZ’s honors is available on IP STARS.

The annual IP STARS rankings are compiled during a six-month research process performed by Managing Intellectual Property’s team of analysts. The methodology evaluates expertise, market intelligence and feedback from clients and competitors. Read more about the selection process here.

Hanley Flight & Zimmerman and Firm’s Co-Founders Ranked In IAM Patent 1000

Hanley Flight & Zimmerman as well as firm co-founders Mark Hanley, James Flight, and Mark Zimmerman have been ranked in the 2023 edition of the IAM Patent 1000, an annual guide to the world’s leading patent law firms and individuals.

Along with the co-founders, IAM listed HFZ among its recommendations for patent prosecution in Illinois: “The team has particularly deep expertise in the electrical, computer and software fields. It is an excellent firm for US patent preparation and prosecution, and it has some big names on its roster of clientele. It is a top IP outfit and its practitioners provide straightforward and effective solutions that help to achieve patrons’ goals.”

HFZ’s complete Patent 1000 profile is available here.

The Patent 1000, published by Law Business Research, uses qualitative research, including interviews and written submissions, to select top firms and individuals. More information about the methodology is available here.

Hanley Flight & Zimmerman Among Top 5 Large Law Firms for Best Patent Quality

Hanley Flight & Zimmerman is honored to be recognized among Patent Bots®, top 10 large patent law firms in its fourth annual Patent Quality Rankings. HFZ ranked fifth in the 2023 rankings, another reason why HFZ is trusted by the best companies to protect their innovations.

In conducting its analysis, Patent Bots reviewed more than 300,000 patents issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office in the past year and ranked firms who issued at least 500 patents in the last calendar year based on the average number of errors in their patents.

HFZ moved up in this year’s large law firm ratings from eighth last year. See the full list at Patent Bots®.

Hanley Flight & Zimmerman Ranks Among the Top Patent Issuing Law Firms In 2022

The numbers are in and Hanley Flight & Zimmerman, LLC ranked among the most prolific law firms in the nation for U.S. patents issued last year, according to recently released data compiled by Harrity Patent Analytics.

HFZ ranked 80th among law firms and corporate patent departments for total U.S. utility patents issued in 2022. With so many U.S.-based clients, HFZ ranked even higher for U.S. patents issued from patent applications whose first filing occurred domestically. In that U.S.-first filing category, HFZ ranked 36th for the most utility patents issued in 2022.

Showing its deep expertise across several technology areas, HFZ ranked even higher in the U.S.-first filing category in four USPTO Technology Centers. Specifically, in that category, HFZ ranked:

  • 14th for most patents issued in USPTO Tech Center 2600 for Communications technologies.
  • 15th for most patents issued in USPTO Tech Center 2400 for Computer Networks, Multiplex, Cable and Cryptography/Security technologies.
  • 29th for most patents issued in USPTO Tech Center 3600 for Transportation, Electronic Commerce, Construction and Agriculture technologies.
  • 31st for most patents issued in USPTO Tech Center 2100 for Computer Architecture, Software and Information Systems technologies.

Previous data published by the Intellectual Property Owners Association in collaboration with Harrity Patent Analytics, showed that HFZ represents six of the Top 25 U.S. companies who earned the most granted patents from the USPTO in 2022 — meaning 24% of the top U.S. patenting entities look to HFZ for representation in protecting their valuable inventions.

HFZ Clients Featured in Top 300 Patent Owners Report, Including 6 of Top 25 U.S. Companies

The annual list of the Top 300 entities who were issued patents by the United States Patent and Trademark Office has been released, and once again it shows Hanley Flight & Zimmerman is trusted by the best.

According to data published by the Intellectual Property Owners Association in collaboration with Harrity Patent Analytics, HFZ represents six of the Top 25 U.S. companies who earned the most granted patents from the USPTO in 2022 — meaning 24% of the top U.S. patenting entities look to HFZ for representation.

HFZ clients in the Top 25 are Intel, Ford, General Electric, Texas Instruments, Boeing and VMWare.

Other HFZ clients also appearing in the Top 300 include Deere, Emerson Electric, Abbott Laboratories and Nielsen Holding PLC.

Congratulations to all of HFZ’s great clients for their outstanding showing in leading the world in innovation.

HFZ’s James Flight Featured in IAM’s Strategy 300 Global Leaders 2023

James (Jim) Flight, a founding member of Hanley Flight & Zimmerman, is featured in IAM’s Strategy 300 Global Leaders 2023, a publication that showcases the top experts in intellectual property across the world.

IAM says Jim “understands IP strategy from a multitude of perspectives. He is fantastic at assisting businesses of all sizes in determining the commercial value of their intangible assets and then creating plans for building solid portfolios.”

Jim also participated in a Q&A; the full version is available here. Here is Jim’s response to one question: Could you name something that is characteristic of your practice that is not common in the industry?

“Hanley Flight & Zimmerman’s practice stands out because we proactively consider trends in the case law and prepare and prosecute patent applications with an eye on those trends,” Jim said. “Many firms simply do what they have always done and are relatively detached from the evolving legal landscape. In contrast, our firm is focused on constantly developing the best techniques to secure patents that are likely to withstand challenges in the future.

“We also spend considerable time thinking through our strategies to make sure our clients’ patents cover the marketplace activity that aligns with their business interests, and that infringement of our clients’ patents can be detected. At the end of the day, patents are business tools, and we prepare and prosecute patents to be leveraged to meet our clients’ needs in a cost-effective manner.”

The IAM Strategy 300 identifies “individuals who are leading the way in the development of strategies that maximize the value of IP portfolios.” The list comprises leaders from a variety of arenas, including service providers, corporations, research institutions and universities. Areas of specialty range from brokering to valuation; Jim is listed in the Legal category.

The roster of honorees was compiled through an editorial process that includes peer nominations, research and source interviews. More information on the methodology is available here.

7 Things to Know About HFZ’s James Flight

For James Flight, writing a patent claim is a lot like putting together all the pieces of a complex puzzle. It’s just one of the reasons why he loves working at Hanley, Flight, & Zimmerman, LLC, a leading Chicago intellectual property firm.

HFZ’s team not only strives to understand how a client’s new invention works, but how it compares to past technology and how it could fit into the future technological landscape. They must consider these factors as they write the patent claims to avoid the prior art, cover future implementations of the invention, and make it possible to detect infringement.

“It is exciting to face new puzzles every day and to be able to play a role in protecting great inventions for some of the best companies in the world,” said Flight, who co-founded HFZ.

To celebrate the firm’s 20th anniversary, he talked about what distinguishes HFZ from other patent firms.

Flight and his partners founded HFZ because they wanted to build a different kind of patent firm.

When Mark Hanley and Mark Zimmerman invited him to join the practice they were launching, Flight jumped at the chance.

“Mark, Mark and I wanted to do something different — build a firm that rewarded and cultivated excellence,” Flight said.

Unlike other patent firms, HFZ isn’t just a loose collection of independent partners.

“We purposely architected our firm to operate as one with everyone rowing in the same direction,” Flight said. “As such, we cooperatively work to ensure all of our clients are consistently treated well and matched with the best resources for the job at hand.”

Here’s what that looks like in practice: No tug-of-war over associates.

In many traditional firms, associate attorneys are at the mercy of the partners. Partner A wants them to tackle their work first, without considering the associates’ obligations to Partner B. Training and mentorship suffer, and so do the clients and associates.

“We build in internal quality controls that enforce cooperation and keep people from working in isolation,” Flight said. “We are a relatively flat organization where everyone is encouraged to speak up and contribute. We are big believers that open communication brings fresh ideas to the forefront, which leads to innovation and excellence.”

Part of what makes HFZ great is what they don’t do.

The firm doesn’t handle litigation, which is often better left to large general practice firms.

Instead, HFZ is dedicated to patent prosecution — preparing, filing and negotiating for patent protection — and pre-litigation counseling, with a clearly defined focus on electrical, software and mechanical arts.

“Many law firms try to ‘do it all’ and, unfortunately, end up not being very good at anything,” Flight said. “Our focused approach enables us to be excellent at everything we offer.”

Flight is an avid player of board games.

“There has been a Renaissance in board gaming over the last few decades,” he said. “Unlike the games of yesteryear, board games today are not simply ‘roll dice and move around the edge of a board.’ There are many more interesting mechanisms and engaging themes.”

Like “Agricola,” a farming game where players seek a balance between growing their family to handle a larger workload while also having enough food for everyone. Or “Terraforming Mars,” where players compete to be the biggest contributor to raising the oxygen level and the temperature on Mars, so it can permit settlement.

“I enjoy board games because they offer an opportunity to come together having fun around a table with friends and family,” Flight said. “Time together with those we love — what can be better?”

Looking for a good book? Flight recommends the Good Book.

If there’s one title that everyone should read, Flight said, it’s the Bible.

“Whether from a religious perspective, an arts perspective or a historical perspective, I think knowledge of the Bible is essential to an understanding of humanity, current events and history,” Flight said. “The events documented in the Bible are reflected in cultures around the world to this day. I don’t think anyone’s education can be complete without reading it.”

When he needs to take a break, nothing beats birding and fly-fishing.

Getting back to nature is one of Flight’s favorite ways to decompress.

“Just the thought of standing in a stream, watching the fly drift among the swirls of the water over a colorful streambed, makes me take a deep breath and relax,” Flight said. “Similarly, I feel birding tunes me to the ebb and flow of nature as we see migrations in spring and fall.

“If we don’t find ways to stop and look, we can miss the beautiful moments that make up life all around us.”

Flight takes his work seriously because he knows just how important patents are.

Developing new technology is expensive and risky. Granting patents to the companies that make those innovations, gives those companies 20 years of exclusivity to profit from their hard work. Without that protection, many businesses would stop spending money on new ideas, leading to a stagnant economy.

“Quite simply, investors do not make risky investments if there is no opportunity for reward,” Flight said. “The US Patent system has been instrumental in building the most powerful economy in human history and has driven some of the world’s most significant technological developments. We want to keep that system strong as it benefits us all.”

Growing with HFZ: Hanley Flight & Zimmerman develops great engineers into great patent attorneys

Hanley Flight & Zimmerman isn’t just trusted by the best companies in the country, it’s also earned the trust of its employees to be a supportive environment where their careers can take off.

James Redondo and Maggie Harrington are just two examples of how engineers can grow into patent attorneys with HFZ.

While Maggie is in the early stages of law school and James is a partner with the firm, both joined HFZ looking for a new challenge in their careers.

They saw patent law as a way to use their engineering skills and keep learning about technology. And after the firm hired them, both received mentorship and advice from colleagues at every step.

A math teacher goes to engineering school, and then finds a third career: Patent law

James, an undergraduate mathematics and education major, taught high school for five years before a friend thought he’d make a good electrical engineer. So James went back to college for a second bachelor’s degree.

At a career fair his senior year, James didn’t feel a real connection with many of the companies advertising engineering jobs. But HFZ’s table piqued his curiosity.

What James heard about patent law led him to apply for a job.

“You’re learning about little pieces of different technologies because every project you get comes from a different company, or a different group within that company,” he said. “You’re getting exposure to all these different technologies. It’s not just one thing over and over and over.”

James started at HFZ as a patent engineer, writing applications.

“It tapped into my education roots, because you’re essentially writing an instruction manual or a textbook,” he said.

Then, after a year, he decided to enter law school, finishing his degree at night while working for HFZ in the day – a path many of the firm’s attorneys were familiar with.

“If they can do it, I thought I could figure it out too. And these patent attorneys are all like me. They’re all technical,” James said. “The experience I got writing patent applications helped me a lot with the writing that was required in law school.

“What they told me was true.”

Today, James offers the same advice to aspiring patent lawyers that he once heard as an engineer.

“It’s a lot of work, but it’s good work,” he said. “It’s fulfilling, it’s challenging, in multiple different ways. And you’re gonna grow a lot when you work here.”

From ‘stunted’ in an engineering role to ‘supported’ as a future patent attorney

Maggie joined HFZ shortly after starting her career as a mechanical engineer on the manufacturing floor of an aerospace company. Concerned her growth would be “stunted” in that role, she became interested in patent law and how it would allow her to use her degree and technical skills.

She applied for a job at HFZ and is in her second year as a patent engineer.

“I’m not a ‘sit back and let’s just coast right through the workday’ person,” Maggie said. “HFZ really pushes me. The attorneys have very high standards.”

She found her fellow patent engineers to be “some of the most motivating people ever.” They showed her how to balance work at HFZ with law school. HFZ’s mentorship program also added to her support system.

That convinced Maggie to go for her law degree.

“‘OK, I can do this,’” she told herself. “This is a great opportunity for me to pursue.”

Today, Maggie is six weeks into law school, taking advantage of the firm’s flex- and part-time policy that also gives employees time away from work for childcare or other responsibilities in addition to school work. HFZ also assigns each new employee to a mentor.

Before deciding to enter school, Maggie was “hyper vigilant” to how HFZ treated her fellow patent engineers who were in school, paying attention to their stress levels and workloads. Now she feels the same support when she needs to log off in the late afternoon to attend school.

“I knew going in that it would be a good situation,” she said of her decision to work and go to school.

Maggie said her confidence flourished from her first day at HFZ, when she was assigned a docket with her initials on it. In contrast with her engineering jobs, Maggie said she quickly felt comfortable adding her voice to discussions at HFZ.

“I’ve grown so much working for HFZ,” she said. “I feel supported and heard. I feel like I’m a member of the team. And I’m contributing, which is the best feeling to have in any job.”

James Flight Honored Among Leading IP Strategists

James (Jim) Flight, a founding member of HFZ, is recognized in the 2022 edition of IAM Strategy 300: The World’s Leading IP Strategists.

The IAM Strategy 300 identifies “individuals who are leading the way in the development of strategies that maximize the value of IP portfolios.” The list comprises leaders from a variety of arenas, including service providers, corporations, research institutions and universities. Areas of specialty range from brokering to valuation; Jim is listed in the Legal category.

The roster of honorees was compiled through an editorial process that includes peer nominations, research and source interviews. More information on the methodology is available here.