Aug 28th: Tom Smegal, Patent Law in the Modern Era


AUG 28th: Tom Smegal, Patent Law in the Modern Era
SEP 4th: Mickey Griffith- The Referral Institute
SEP 11th: Nicole Schapiro
SEP 18th: Dr Bruce Miller -Research at UCSF in Neurodegenerative Diseases
SEP 25th: Craig Harrison: Good, Better, Best!



Mr. Smegal was a partner in the San Francisco office of Knobbe, Martens, Olson & Bear from 1998, when he opened that office, through 2005.  Prior to joining Knobbe, Martens, Olson & Bear, Mr. Smegal was a senior partner in charge of the intellectual property department at the San Francisco law firm of Graham & James (1992-1998).  From 1965-1992, Mr. Smegal was a San Francisco partner in Townsend and Townsend, serving as their first managing partner from 1974 until 1989. Prior to joining Townsend & Townsend, Mr. Smegal had been a patent attorney with Shell Development Company in Emeryville, California.

During the past 43 years, while engaged in the full-time practice of intellectual property law, Mr. Smegal has prepared and prosecuted over a thousand U.S. patent and trademark applications, rendered hundreds of infringement and validity opinions regarding U.S. patents, participated as lead trial counsel in United States District Court trials involving patent validity and infringement and has served as an arbitrator, mediator, special master and expert witness in many intellectual property disputes.

Public Service:
Mr. Smegal has been nominated by two presidents to serve on the Board of Directors of the Legal Services Corporation.  His 1984 nomination by President Reagan, unanimously confirmed by the United States Senate, resulted in Mr. Smegal's service on the eleven-member Board through 1989.  His nomination by President Clinton in 1993, again following unanimous United States Senate confirmation, resulted in Mr. Smegal's second term of service on the Board through 2003.  In recognition of his 
life-long dedication to delivering legal services to the indigent, the National Legal Aid and Defender Association honored him in 1987 as the recipient of its prestigious Arthur Von Breson Award.  


Last week we got our Fire Truck Bell back.  Today we got President Harvey back too.  We also got to move back into the Commandant’s Ballroom.  I had expected a pretty good crowd, as Chairperson of the Day Patricia Fripp was bringing eight guests to hear speaker Alfonso Montuori.  In honor of her duties as Chairperson of the day, Fripp even wore her Area 51 hat, now that it’s been declassified.  Alfonso showed up a bit late, but delivered a great presentation.  Too bad we didn’t deliver some great attendance to go along with Alfonso’s great presentation.  Although Alfonso did receive a lot of good questions from the membership.  So, we made up in enthusiasm for what we lacked in numbers.  We did have eight guests, but two of Fripp’s guests cancelled, so Bert Hill made up the difference by hosting two guests of his own.  Bicycle activist Madeleine Savit, here for her second meeting in a row and considering turning in an application to Membership Chair Wayne Veatch, along with Bert’s old college room mate Phil WeimuhlPhil is a retired State Administrative Law Judge.  I made sure to add the “state”, because Tom Smegal made sure to point out that while he is also an Administrative Law Judge, Tom is a “Federal” Administrative Law Judge.  Oooooh.   

Fripp’s guests were Lynn Fraley and Jim Prost, both Past Presidents of the National Speakers Association of Northern California, along with Simma Lieberman, Diane Parente, and Susan RoAneFripp’s final guest was Linda Burke, who was a member of the Continental Breakfast Club.

Are you newer members wondering “what’s the Continental Breakfast Club?”  Back in the old, unenlightened days, the CBC was the ladies equivalent of the GGBC.  In addition to Linda Burke, other members of the CBC that you may know include Patricia Fripp, Janet Von Doepp, who was the last President of the CBC, and Christine Torrington.

So, give a special thanks to Fripp and Bert, because without their eight guests and the speaker, our attendance would have only been forty.  And that counts Mike Mustacchi who arrived at 8:20AM.  I guess Recology Route 210 was running really late today.

I can’t let a column go by without giving the banana report.  This morning Jorge personally made an early delivery of two bananas for Les Andersen and Arlan Kertz.  But, Les thought his banana was too cold, so Les traded it for a warmer banana from the big buffet platter delivered by Elmer.

Excuses requested for this morning; Reg Young again excused Jim Simpson, so I again excused Mike HanlonJim had to prep for two early patients, Past President Hugh Tuck and…..Reg Young.  I guess Reg is hoping Jim will go easy on him, since Reg did get Jim an excuse.  Not a chance.

Sadly though, Mike needed his excuse to head up to St. Helena to attend the memorial service for our past GGBC member Len BissLen passed away a week ago Tuesday.  Len joined the GGBC in 1975 and attended regularly until his retirement and subsequent move to the Wine Country.  But, Len and wife Gloria always made a point to attend our annual Holiday Party.  Even after Len was no longer able to make the trip to the City, Len continued to send Ray Siotto a check to include with the GGBC’s Christmas charity donations.  

Only one other excuse request for today; the aforementioned Ray Siotto, who is in southern California, excused by Joel Panzer.

Member who really needed to see Ray Siotto this morning; Grant Hundley.  On Saturday, a sixty foot tall pine tree fell out of Buena Vista Park and landed right on top of Grant’s car.  Even a Ford can’t withstand a crushing blow from a sixty foot tall pine tree. 

Excuse requested but not delivered; for Antonio White who was supposed to be excused by Mike Mustacchi.  But, when you excuser arrives ten minutes before the end of the meeting; chances are your excuse is going to be missed.  Fortunately though, Mustacchi did arrive before the speaker was finished, so our Certificate of Appreciation, e-mailed by Antonio to Mustacchi last evening, did get delivered by President Harvey to Mr. Montuori.   

Excuses needed for the future; Stan Ellexson for three weeks to go on a cruise to Alaska.  Marty Mijalski’s wife Patti is forcing Marty to go to Costa Rica.  Patti wants to go zip lining, but Marty says he doesn’t need his face to come in contact with a tree at forty miles per hour.  Marty says he looks bad enough.         

Excuse not needed; Janet Von Doepp dismissed from jury duty.  Janet is sure the tee shirt she wore to court emblazoned with “Liberal” across the front and, taking advice from President Harvey, saying she has breakfast with Terry Cowhey every Wednesday got her off.  Those two statements say “loose cannon” to any lawyer worth his or her salt.

This week Phil Moscone is…..John Stewart.  Remember, John, his kids and grandkids are at a dude ranch in Colorado.

Michael Mattis extended a special thanks to Jackson Talbot for taking the time to treat Mike’s visitors from Holland to a ride up to the top of the pointy building with its spectacular views.  Mike also mentioned there’s an on line petition to name the new Bay Bridge the Emperor Norton Bridge.  Hey, don’t laugh, that’s better than naming it the Willie Brown or Jerry Brown Bridge.

Up at Tahoe for the weekend, Betty Taisch decided to take a hike up to Shirley Lake.  It’s a challenging hike with a 3,000 foot change in elevation over about three and a quarter miles.  Bill Buchanan, sporting his brand new Red Badge of Courage, suggested after the walk up to Shirley Lake, you take the tram back.  Our esteemed Past President Hugh Tuck related his Shirley Lake story.  Seems the Tuck family brought their dog along on the hike.  But, they didn’t bring any water for the dog, so on the walk back the dog decided to lay down on the path expecting to be carried the rest of the way down.  Past President Hugh found out the hard way that Golden Retrievers don’t come with handles.  I live by the old garbageman’s adage; “always work downhill”.  Take the tram up to the top, and then walk back down.

Speaking of dogs, Tom Smegal takes the family dog everywhere too.  When the family goes back to Minnesota, Bailey the Shih Tzu, sitting in his own seat, accompanies Tom in First Class.  Tom’s wife and kids?  They’re in coach.  Hey, that’s not so bad; Tom could have put them on a Greyhound.       

Also in line to receive a new Red Badge of Courage upon his return; Mike Hanlon.  We shouldn’t complain about having to replace Mike’s badge.  After all, it was thirty-three years old.              

Members that have returned; Robin Brasso, who has been quite busy during her absence.  Robin, our pedestrian advocate, made sure to attend the sentencing hearing for the bike rider that killed the gentleman who was crossing Castro Street at Market.  The victim’s family actually pleaded leniency for the perpetrator, so the judge sentenced him to community service.  No, he will not be teaching bicycle safety like Bert Hill suggested.  Did you like Robin’s necklace?  She picked it up at a conference for human trafficking conducted here in the City.  The necklace was crafted by a human trafficking survivor.

You should all be aware San Francisco’s population of people less than eighteen years of age is shrinking.  In Bert Hill’s Corona Heights neighborhood, only thirteen percent of the population meets that criterion.  That’s the lowest of any neighborhood in America!  If you happen to be one of the few families that have to get a kid into your neighborhood public school, you’re in for a pretty good challenge.  Bert’s Grandson has been assigned to a school half way across town that does not have easy public transit connections.  So, Bert has bit the bullet and purchased a car so he can take his Grandson to school.  Bert didn’t mention the model of car purchased though.  Couldn’t it be Bert is embarrassed by the “Soccer Mom” Suburban he’s driving?

Cathy Scharetg also returned long enough to tell us it’s difficult to raise a family in San Francisco.  But, it is football season, so that makes it a little more palatable.  Cathy’s oldest son is playing for Santa Rosa JC and her youngest is on the varsity at Sacred Heart Cathedral.  Now we know where to find Cathy every Friday night and every Saturday afternoon.            

This morning was the first official appearance of Alex Mozes as a new member.  Alex received the proper round of applause and mentioned he too was raised in San Francisco, but prior to the current system of assigning kids to schools.  So, Alex actually went to his neighborhood school.  

Marin Carpool #1 was just John Cribbs all alone again.  With Jill Hoffman still in trial and Roy Wonder still travelling, John had to pickup the full bridge toll and stay out of the carpool lane.  Since Mike Mustacchi over slept, he missed Marin Carpool #2 as it passed through the Marina.  Les Andersen and John McKnight enjoyed a more comfortable ride without the extra passenger squeezed in. 

Recology may get a pass from Tom Jacobs, as Tom’s campaign against dental therapists is heating up and will be taking more of his time and effort.  Tom has set up a web site to give us the full story.  Tom didn’t give us the name of the web site though.  I guess we’ll just wait until next week for the full story.

John Mathers took his sister to see Beach Blanket Babylon for her birthday and forgot how funny BBB can be.  His sister laughed so hard she said her stomach hurt.     

Jeanine Spencer must have felt bad after hanging up on Steve Shain last week, so she called Steve to let him know she’s very disappointed.  Jeanine’s birthday is this week and she wishes she could be here at the GGBC, so we could sing the birthday song in her honor.     

There were zero jokes today and J.J. Panzer’s word of the day is; Inter gluteal cleft

1.  The medical, technical term for “butt crack”.

2. The place where Marty Mijalski and Alan Garber find their jokes every week.

Incredulously, Attendance Chairman Hedy Kaveh says everyone signed in today.  Even   Mustacchi?  Or did Mike get a pass due to his very late arrival?    

As Mike Hanlon was not here, the birthday duty fell to Reg YoungReg says no birthdays this week, and when the members in attendance were asked if we missed anyone’s birthday, there was no response.  No birthday song this week, not even for Jeanine in absentia.

I do have one more bit of sad news, Lillian Ballati, mother of former GGBC member Dave Ballati passed away on 8/10/13.  Services were private, though I’m sure Dave and his family would appreciate a card or a donation to a charity of your choice in his Mom’s name.         

Knucklehead of the week:  Last week it was Democratic Mayor of San Diego, Bob Filner.  This week I’m giving the Republicans equal time and bestowing the title on Maine Governor Paul LePage.  Assuming he was in a room full of sympathetic, fellow republicans, Governor LePage mentioned “Obama hates white people”.  Unfortunately, Governor LePage didn’t notice those pesky members of the press sitting there too.  In response to a constituents complaint about reduced funding for Maine’s public schools, the Governor suggested “send your kid to private school”.  Maybe on Patricia Fripp’s next trip east, Fripp can swing through Augusta and give LePage a few public speaking pointers.             






Charlie Cunningham recently chided me for taking out my iPhone to set a quick calendar note amid conversation with him.  A fellow club member had "momentarily" interrupted our conversation.  She just hurriedly jumped in to remind me of an upcoming speaker commitment.  I only wanted to make sure I had calendared that.  

Charlie emphasized to me the importance of maintaining focus when in conversation with another person deserving attention.  He reminded me politely that it was rude to interpose such an obvious distraction as my "smart" phone.  He phrased that insight philosophically, something like: "The Importance of Keeping IN the Moment."

I thought about Charlie's words afterwards.  When I mentioned them to my 12- year-old daughter, Grace immediately agreed heartily with her generational senior.  Since then, Charlie's words now inspire her to scold me with them if I even glance at my iPhone once to check something before I forget it, during what seems to me like "just another ordinary meal" with her.

I mean to ask Charlie if he would feel the same way if I had instead pulled out a small paper pocket calendar, like we all once used?  What if I had just quickly made that same sudden schedule note with a pen on that little paper page.  Would that be more familiarly acceptable within whatever notions of social propriety Charlie and Grace seem to share? 

I DID ask my daughter why then she thinks it's OK that she can nearly always immediately become so engrossed in her iPad, whenever I pick her up from school, that I nearly have to SHOUT to get her attention?  When I suggested that comparison with her own behavior, she immediately started explaining to me, "That's different . . .." (My wife starts with those SAME words whenever I dare to suggest that she also may have at least occasionally done something like whatever she may then be complaining about me doing!)

Does "smart" phone technology actually require different etiquette than paper pocket calendars?  Or, is the real "difference" maybe just more like:  "THAT'S DIFFERENT . . .   .??"

(This "GGBC President's Column" was emailed to our publisher from my iPhone, but only while I was safely "alone," in my own little "moment.")