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Leif Sigmond leads Chicago patent attorneys to first U.S. win in Patent Cup history

November 20, 2006

Leif R. Sigmond, Jr., partner at McDonnell Boehnen Hulbert & Berghoff LLP and co-skipper Gary M. Ropski, president of Brinks Hofer Gilson & Lione, brought in the first-ever USA victory in the Patent Cup Regatta held at The Chicago Yacht Club on Lake Michigan earlier this fall.

“This is a great opportunity for the intellectual property community,” said Sigmond. “We have grown so much in the past few years.”

Participating for the first time in this event, Sigmond, Ropski, and their crew sailed a Tartan 10 called the “American Flyer.” In addition to Sigmond and Ropski, members of the winning U.S. team included Robert Irvine, an attorney at McDonnell Boehnen Hulbert & Berghoff, Michael Gannon, a partner at Baniak Pine & Gannon, Matthew Kelly from the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and various local sailors who are not patent attorneys.

“This event is a wonderful opportunity for patent attorneys to develop contacts and friendships among various law firms across the world,” said Ropski. “The competition was tough, but with our tactical expertise, boat-handling skills and knowledge of the local sailing conditions, we were able to win.”

Thirteen teams representing the US and other countries, including France, Great Britain, Germany, Canada and Brazil, competed in this competitive, but friendly, sailing race. Established in 1989 by two friends, a German patent attorney, Peter Franck, and a French patent attorney, Frederic Benech, the Patent Cup, unique to the field of intellectual property law, was created to foster camaraderie and help cultivate strong relations among patent attorneys from around the world as well as provide opportunities for new and exciting sailing venues.

According to the Patent Cup charter, each sailing boat must have a crew consisting primarily of patent attorneys. Every year the race is held in a different country with the host country responsible for the organization, terms and conditions of the race, the boats chosen and all other arrangements for the event.

As winners of this year’s race, Ropski and Sigmond have the honor of exhibiting the handsome silver “Patent Cup” in Chicago until next year’s race, which is scheduled to be held in Scotland. A follow-up article on the event is available here.

Sigmond served as the Managing Partner of McDonnell Boehnen Hulbert & Berghoff LLP for three years and is currently on the firm’s Management Board. He concentrates in intellectual property litigation and advises clients on protecting, obtaining and licensing intellectual property. He owns and actively races a Tartan Ten class sailboat in Chicago.

Ropski is the president of Brinks Hofer Gilson & Lione and has practiced intellectual property law exclusively since joining Brinks in 1976. His practice now focuses on litigation, but has included patent prosecution and litigation, trademark prosecution, including oppositions, and litigation, trade dress litigation, copyright registration and litigation, trade secret litigation, right of publicity counseling and litigation and related unfair competition and antitrust matters in federal and state courts. He races a Shields one-design sailboat in Chicago during the summer months and has consistently been second in the fleet championship series.

McDonnell Boehnen Hulbert & Berghoff LLP, an intellectual property boutique with more than 70 attorneys, was founded in 1996. With offices in Chicago and Washington, MBHB provides comprehensive legal services to obtain and enforce our clients’ intellectual property rights, from navigating patent office procedures to litigating complex infringement actions. MBHB prosecutes patent and trademark applications in both the U.S. and abroad, handles intellectual property litigation matters in trial and appellate courts across the country, and counsels clients nationwide and worldwide on the enforcement and defense of their intellectual property rights.