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Ladas & Parry - A Brief History

Ladas & Parry traces its roots to Lawrence Langner, a British Chartered Patent Agent who had trained as an engineer at Birkbeck College in London and had qualified as a patent agent in the United Kingdom in 1910 when he joined the firm of Haseltine Lake & Co. in London at the age of twenty. He initially came to New York in 1910 as a representative of that firm. However, this relationship terminated in 1912 and Mr. Langner started to represent Mr. Charles F. Kettering (of Sloan-Kettering fame) in securing protection for his newly-invented electric starter motor in Europe. This necessitated a visit to Berlin. On his return to New York, Lawrence Langner opened his own office specializing in obtaining patent and trademark protection for U.S. clients around the world. To the right is a picture of Lawrence Langner seated at his desk. This picture is believed to date from the early to mid 1920's. Note the equipment available to him including what appears to be an early dictation apparatus against the wall. Relatively soon after opening the office in New York, Lawrence Langner opened a second office in Chicago in 1914.

The pattern of countries in which applications were filed in the early days was surprisingly similar to that of today, although with greater emphasis then in Russia and Cuba than we find now. In 1915, Mr. Langner formed a partnership with his brother Herbert, William Card and John Parry, another British Chartered Patent Agent and a former colleague at Haseltine Lake. After 1920, the firm practiced under the name Langner, Parry, Card and Langner. William Card soon took over the running of the Chicago office, with the Langners and John Parry practicing in New York. Messrs. Langner and Parry retained their connection with the United Kingdom by also forming a London-based partnership with another ex-Haseltine Lake patent agent, Arthur Stevens, which practiced initially as White, Langner, Stevens and Parry and subsequently under the name Stevens, Langner, Parry and Rollinson. The two firms had a close relationship for many years. Above is a picture, also dating from the 1920's, of the Trademark Dispatch Staff in the New York Office. The accounting department can be seen to the rear.

From the beginning, the firm took an active part in the New York patent scene (the term "intellectual property" had not yet been invented) and its partners were founding members of the New York Patent Law Association (NYPLA). A number of the early NYPLA dinners featured plays by Lawrence Langner, the first being entitled "Patent Applied For", a comedy about a tall blonde Australian lady who had invented a new corset for adjusting the contours of the female anatomy to comply with current fashion. The play was a great success and led to many further works in later years. In fact, Lawrence Langner had a life-long interest in the theater, being a founding member of the Theater Guild in 1919 (later participating in its 1943 production of Oklahoma! which ran for over five years), the American Shakespeare Festival Theater in Stamford, Connecticut in 1950 and the Westport Playhouse later in the 1950's. Both Yale University and the New York Public Library have collections of his works, which are mentioned online. In addition to all this, he was a patentee in his own right, making inventions in the field of starter motors. He was also involved in the drafting of the trademark provisions of the Treaty of Versailles. In World War II he was instrumental in forming and served on the National Inventor's Council. To the above and right is a photograph of John Parry, one of the firm's early partners. This picture also dates from the mid 1920's.

During the 1920's, Leonard Robbins and S. Delvalle Goldsmith joined the firm, soon to be followed by Stephen Ladas. Robbins, like Lawrence Langner and John Parry, was a British Chartered Patent Agent and joined the firm after a period spent as a tutor to the Thai royal family. He was active in many professional organizations and represented the U.S. pharmaceutical industry in presentations before the Indian parliament in the period prior to India's 1970 revision of its patent law. Del Goldsmith likewise participated actively in professional organizations, particularly the Patent (later Intellectual Property) Section of the American Bar Association. A picture of Del Goldsmith can be seen to the right working in the firm's library with a research assistant. Stephen Ladas was one of the giants of the intellectual property world. His contributions included not only two major books on the subject of intellectual property, "The International Protection of Literary and Artistic Property", published in 1938, and "Patents, Trademarks and Related Rights - National and International Protection", published in 1975, but also participation in the 1958 revision of the Paris Convention as a member of the United States delegation. He also managed to work as a business consultant for the Coca-Cola Company in his spare time. Today, Stephen Ladas is remembered by the Ladas Memorial Award for legal writing made each year by the Brand Names Education Foundation.

The post-war years saw a rapid growth of the firm with responsibilities moving from the founders to the next generation: in New York, Leonard Robbins and Del Goldsmith in the Patent department and Steve Ladas and the Deschamps brothers, Sidney and Marcel, in trademarks. In Chicago, the load passed primarily to George Von Gehr and Vernon Peterson. Del still fondly remembers late night dashes on Friday nights to the docks to ensure that new cases caught the "fast boat" to Europe to ensure the earliest possible filing date. It was during this period that the firm started its Trademark Watch Service, reviewing trademark journals from around the world (now covering over 200 jurisdictions) in order to alert clients to applications by others for registration of trademarks that might conflict with their interests. The period was also one of transition in the structure of the firm. As the founding generation wound down, the partnership, which by then included Malcolm Parry, a son of John Parry, broadened by adding new talent, such as Lester Horwitz, who would go on to write two well-known treatises on U.S. patent law and Irving Braverman, who would serve as the firm's Managing Partner for more than 25 years. Above and to the left is a picture of the firm's 40th anniversary celebration from 1952. In this photograph are, left to right Herbert Langner, Lawrence Langner, Stephen Ladas, John Parry, Leonard Robbins, and Del Goldsmith.

By the 1960's, George Von Gehr was spending an increasing amount of time on the West Coast working with our clients in that part of the country and, in 1964, the firm opened an office in Los Angeles to provide better service for such clients. It was initially staffed with transplants from the firm's Chicago Office, including George von Gehr and Richard Keefe. During this period, Mr. Von Gehr became one of the founding members of the Licensing Executives Society (LES).

With the transfer of Mr. Von Gehr to Los Angeles, the task of running Chicago Office passed initially to Jack Foxgrover and Norman Schmitz and subsequently to Jack Chrystal. Norman Schmitz led the way in establishing the firm's tradition of being involved in the education of new lawyers, creating a course in International Patent Law at John Marshall School of Law in Chicago. Jack Chrystal became a major force in both local patent law organizations in Chicago and in international patent organizations, such as the founding chairman of the U.S. Bar-European Patent Office liaison group. He also took over Norman Schmitz's teaching role as a member of the adjunct faculty at John Marshall for more than 30 years. To the right is a firm partnership photograph from the early 1950's. In this photograph are, left to right, first row: George von Gehr, John Parry, Lawrence Langner, Herbert Langner, second row: Leonard Robbins, Sydney Deschamps, Vernon Peterson, Stephen Ladas and Del Goldsmith.

The expansion which had started with the opening of Los Angeles office continued with the opening of the firm's London Office in 1969 following the ending of the relationship with Stevens, Langner, Parry and Rollinson. Our Munich Office followed in 1978 in time for the opening of the European Patent Office.

However, even before this, the focus of the firm was changing. Whereas for its first half century, the firm had specialized in seeking protection for American inventions and trademarks in foreign countries, by the late 1960's most of its partners were trained American lawyers who sought a more active role in protection of their clients rights in the United States as well. Thus, in 1971, the firm reconstituted itself as a law firm under the name Ladas, Parry, Von Gehr, Goldsmith and Deschamps, becoming one of the first law firms to operate in several states as a single partnership. In 1980, the name was shortened to Ladas & Parry. Above and to the left is a firm partnership photograph from the early 1990's. As can be seen from these pictures, we continue to grow.

Even though the firm reconstituted itself as a law firm, it did not turn its back on its history, but sought to develop its traditional activities while at the same time entering into new areas. Thus, in 1970, the firm became one of the pioneers in developing a computer-based service for the payment of patent and trademark renewal fees around the world. The firm was also one of the first to develop contacts in the People's Republic of China, Ian Kaufman having acted as a consultant to the Chinese government in the revision of its trademark law. Furthermore, this new approach led to the establishment of a litigation department in our New York Office in the late 1970's. One of its earliest cases was defending High Society Magazine in an action brought against it by the actress Ann-Margaret in which the court held that use by the magazine of a photograph taken from a film in which the actress had appeared was not a violation of her civil rights. The New York litigation department became the forerunner of similar departments in Los Angeles and Chicago.

In 1981, the firm took over the Los Angeles-based practice of Alberi & Radke, thereby strengthening its position on the West Coast and adding a future partner, Richard Berg, to its staff. In 1989, the New York firm of Roberts Spiecens and Cohen was merged into Ladas & Parry, which resulted not only in the acquisition of another future partner, Clifford Mass, but also enhanced the firm's ability to carry out patent litigation in addition to our already thriving trademark litigation practice.

Over the years, Ladas & Parry has had the privilege of securing, maintaining, and enforcing patent, trademark and service mark rights for many of the Fortune 500 Companies, and other leading companies. The firm has represented both small and large diversified companies in both the United States and practically all other countries which provide for patent, trademark, service mark and trade name protection. Today, the firm is active in all areas of intellectual property law both domestically and internationally. We seek to develop constructive approaches to our clients' needs, typified, for example, by new client partnering techniques adopted in particular by Fred Meyers and others in our Chicago Office. The traditions of the firm in being active in IP organizations are carried forward by, for example, Ian Kaufman's role on the Executive Committee of AIPPI, and in ICANN, Allan Pilson's activities on the Executive Committee of ASIPI and on the Board of Directors of INTA, where he previously served as editor-in-chief of The Trademark Reporter, Mavis Gallenson's position as secretary of the Intellectual Property Law Section of the California Bar Association and Janet Cord's position as treasurer of the New York Women's Bar Association. In the publishing field, Lanning Bryer is an editor and author of a number of books including "Intellectual Property Assets in Mergers and Acquisitions", "World Wide Trademark Transfers" and "Intellectual Property in the Global Marketplace", drawing on his wide experience in dealing with the "property law" aspects of transactions involving the sale or licensing of intellectual property rights around the world. Our tradition of teaching is continued by John Richards who teaches both United States and International Patent Law at Fordham University School Law.

Ladas & Parry's rich history has allowed the firm to develop into one of the leading intellectual property law firms in the world today. Ladas & Parry is grateful to have been of assistance to its clients throughout the last 90 years and looks forward to continuing to provide outstanding legal services to its clients in the field of intellectual property law for many years to come.



© Copyright 2002 Ladas & Parry
Page revised 4/13/2011

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