Over 100 Florida attorneys apply for new board certification

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  • | 12:00 p.m. April 9, 2007
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One hundred-six Florida lawyers have submitted applications for Florida Bar board certification in the newly established intellectual property law specialty, the nation’s first. Intellectual property law is one of 22 board certification specialties available in Florida.

Intellectual property lawyers practice primarily in the areas of patent application prosecution, patent infringement litigation, trademark law and copyright law. Attorney James A. Gale of Feldman Gale in Miami chairs The Florida Bar’s intellectual property certification committee.

“There are a host of new problems out there for companies and individuals trying to protect customer lists, proprietary data, Web site content, trademarks and slogans because of the complexity of this area of law,” said Gale. “As the practice area has grown, so has the public’s need to identify legal experts in the field.”

In Florida, only board certified lawyers may identify themselves as “specialists” or “experts.”

The Florida Supreme Court in July 2006 amended Florida Bar rules to add intellectual property law to the existing certification program. The opinion states that standards “identify those lawyers who practice intellectual property law and have the special knowledge, skills, and proficiency, as well as the character, ethics, and reputation for professionalism, to be properly identified to the public as certified intellectual property lawyers. “

Applications were due Feb. 28 and the first exam is Oct. 1. Florida Bar members in good standing who meet the Supreme Court standards and pass the exam will achieve certification in June 2008.

Minimum requirements for intellectual property law board certification include:

• At least five years of law practice immediately preceding application. Practicing patent application prosecution before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office qualifies if the lawyer is a registered patent attorney or registered patent agent.

• At least 30 percent of practice in matters related to intellectual property law during the three years immediately preceding application.

• Experience requirements during the five years immediately preceding application for at least one of the following categories: patent application prosecution, patent infringement litigation, trademark law and copyright law.

• Satisfactory peer review assessment of competence in the intellectual property law field as well as character, ethics and professionalism in the practice of law.

• At least 45 hours of continuing legal education within the three years preceding application; and

• Passage of a written examination demonstrating knowledge, skills and proficiency in the field.

Board certification is valid for five years, during which time the attorney must continue to practice law and attend Florida Bar-approved continuing legal education courses. To be recertified, requirements similar to those for initial certification must be met. Not all qualified lawyers are certified, but those who are board certified have taken the extra step to have their competence and experience recognized.

Intellectual property board certification standards are available on The Florida Bar Web site at www.FloridaBar.org/certification. More information on the 22 legal specialty areas also is available by contacting The Florida Bar’s Legal Specialization & Education Department at (850) 561-5842.

— courtesy The Florida Bar