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2012 Legal Elite Profile: INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY

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RALPH M. TENER
McCandlish & Lillard PC
Fairfax

NewsTitle: Chairman and treasurer
Other legal specialties: Computer law, business law
Birthplace: Cleveland
Education: Michigan State University, bachelor’s degree in philosophy (Phi Beta Kappa); University of Virginia, law degree (Raven Society); University of San Francisco, graduate-level coursework in computer science
Spouse: Janet Kerr Tener, Ph.D., grants administrator for the Hattie M. Strong Foundation
Children:  John, age 28; Benjamin, age 24, Andrew, age 22
Hobbies: Golf, book sale coordinator for local (Oakton) public library branch, bicycling
First job as a lawyer: Associate at Long & Levit (San Francisco), litigation and business law
Fan of:  San Francisco 49ers, San Francisco Giants, Washington Nationals, Washington Redskins
Favorite vacation spot:  Bald Head Island, N.C.
Recently read book: “Life Ascending: The Ten Great Inventions of Evolution” by Nick Lane
Career mentor: David R. Harrison, Long & Levit

What has been the most interesting legal development during your career?
“The most interesting legal development during my career has been the evolution of computer law.  Software distribution has moved from large, complicated mainframe licenses to simple shrinkwrap (and now clickwrap) licenses to hosting agreements for Software-as-a-Service and the closely related cloud computing.  Proprietary software products have increasingly incorporated or been integrated with open-source components and other third-party products.  Business models have changed accordingly, and the law has been fairly adept at catching up with the many changes.”

“I have seen quite a few examples over the past 10 years of software patents that seem to lack the novelty that should be required for the issuance of a patent — mostly patents relating to processing information in mundane ways that also happen to involve use of the Internet.  The great expense of challenging a patent makes it hard for companies, and particularly small companies, to resist having royalties imposed upon their distribution of products which should not be deemed infringing.”


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