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.

Seven Things to Know About Mark Hanley As His Firm Turns 20

Hanley Flight & Zimmerman doesn’t just make Chicago proud as a top intellectual property law firm. It also stands out as a business where the founders read books about rock band dynamics to make sure they’re staying the course.

Here are seven highlights from a recent conversation with co-founder Mark Hanley, covering his history with the firm, how he got there, what HFZ offers clients – and what Aerosmith has to teach us all.

He became a patent lawyer after working as an engineer for a decade.

“I was in product development, where several of the devices we developed were the subject of some patent applications. I was a joint inventor on all of them,” Hanley said. “You sit down with the patent attorneys at some point to talk to them about your invention. And I got curious one day and talking with this patent attorney that came in to speak with the group.”

He learned that the attorney had originally graduated with an engineering degree before deciding he wanted to take a different course.

That triggered a memory from when Hanley mowed lawns as a preteen. A patent attorney client offered a peek into the future.

The attorney noticed that Hanley enjoyed fixing things and tinkering with his mower. So he called him over one day to look at his work.

“He had all these papers spread out,” Hanley said. “And he said, ‘You know, I’m a patent attorney, and I work on inventions. And I was an engineer. And I like tinkering with things, too. But I thought I’d show you some of these.’ And they were published patent applications.”

While as a youth Hanley understood the conversation as a nudge to become an engineer, the lightbulb went off for him as an adult. Maybe he was meant to do more.

At that point, he made a major life change. He decided to quit his job and become a patent attorney.

The engineering business was changing, with work being outsourced to Taiwan.

Hanley ended up leaving his engineering gig altogether. “I ended up finding a job at a firm in the city, working for them during the day and going to law school at night,” he said. “And that’s where I met [Mark] Zimmerman and [James] Flight.”

After starting the firm, the founders haven’t forgotten what it was like. They offer that support to new employees making similar changes.

“We know what it feels like to be in school at night, to work all day and to go to school at night,” Hanley said. He added: “It’s not like these people that are going to school at night that work with us have a light docket, they have a pretty heavy docket. They work hard.”

The point, he noted, is that law school isn’t forever. The firm supports those going through the process. And it makes great business sense, too; people that work with HFZ during law school can hit the ground running when they graduate.

The company’s positive culture makes a difference, both to those working there and those who hire HFZ for IP work.

Hanley acknowledges that law firms can be challenging environments for employees. But HFZ’s folks enjoy their work and are satisfied with what they do, which he ranks as an important accomplishment.

But that’s just one side of the coin. “The clients give us great feedback. They’re very happy with our work,” he said. “I’m pretty proud to hear things from some of these bigger companies, like ‘You’re our favorite prosecution firm in the country.’”

What three words would he use to describe HFZ?

“Serious. And I think we’re serious about the work. That’s where that comes from.”

Flexible. “We’re very flexible toward individuals and what’s happening with them personally,” Hanley said. “But also business wise … we try to take our ego out of this stuff and think about it. Maybe we’re doing it wrong, you know. We revisit things all the time.”

Determined. “We are determined to make it work. We don’t give up.”

When asked where he found unusual sources of inspiration, Hanley noted a very specific genre of nonfiction: books about rock bands and their dynamics, especially one by Joe Perry of Aerosmith.

“The business part of this rock band thing is really interesting,” he said. “Because it’s personalities, right? … The way these guys work, it’s like a partnership. And they have all this business to conduct.”

In a focused law firm, members need to approach each other with empathy and understanding, he said – and seek harmony among the different parts.
“You can’t just get emotional or let the emotion carry you away, because that’s when bands break up, right?” he said. He added: “Going solo almost never works.”

Top 10 Large Law Firms for Patent Quality 2021

The 2021 edition of our Patent Quality Rankings is now live!

At Patent Bots, we used our advanced machine learning software to proofread an entire year of issued patents. We then ranked 787 US law firms by the smallest average number of errors in the issued patents.

Here, we announce the top 10 US law firms for patent quality with at least 500 issued patents in the last year. Congratulations to these firms for doing amazing work!

(1) Alleman Hall Creasman & Tuttle LLP
(2) Harrity & Harrity, LLP
(3) Guntin & Gust, PLC
(4) Posz Law Group, PLC
(6) McDermott Will & Emery LLP
(7) Holland & Hart LLP
(8) Hanley, Flight & Zimmerman, LLC
(9) Keating & Bennett, LLP
(10) Studebaker Brackett PC

Next week, we will be announcing the overall top 50 US law firms to be followed by the top firms in different tech centers and the top companies.

HFZ Gives Back

HFZ is proud to partner with Chicago Hope Academy, a Near West Side private Christian high school. Our donation of iPads and cases to the school will serve both students and their families as they prepare for college. With a student body consisting of more than 80% Latinx and Black students, Chicago Hope Academy and HFZ are committed to support our local community and invest in their success.

Eileen Lysaught, General Counsel, met with school administrators and student ambassadors to tour the campus and experience how Chicago Hope Academy is educating the next generation of leaders. Learn more at www.chicagohopeacademy.org.