If Kevin R. Casey had to choose one word to describe how he came into his field, it would be “fortuity.”
“I came to IP largely because I was an engineer,” Casey explains, taking a short break from his busy IP and trademark practice at Stradley Ronon to discuss his decades-long legal career. “I was going to be a patent attorney but I clerked at the federal circuit, which is where all the appeals and trademark applications cases go. The judge I clerked for was judge Helen Nies. She had been a trademark attorney before she became a judge, so she took a lot of trademark cases and I worked on them in the federal circuit. So that was fortuity.”
While luck might have brought him to his practice area, it’s longevity in the field that Casey says led to his being awarded “Lawyer of the Year" for Pennsylvania Trademark Law in 2019. Not that the award came as too much of a surprise—this is Casey’s fourth “Lawyer of the Year” award, having won once before for trademark law, once for patent law, and once for intellectual property.
“The lifetime achievement award, you could call it that. But I would highlight a couple of other things. I had an opposition brought by Coca-Cola, who’s a worthy adversary, trying to oppose one of my applicant’s marks. Through an exchanging of briefs, we negotiated so that our applicant, a much smaller company of course, was able to get its registration. That was a helpful achievement."
After 30 years in the field, there’s no question Casey has seen intellectual property law change and has been there to chart its latest challenges and evolutions. “The value of the technology of trademarks has gone through the roof. When you go to register something now, it’s a lot more difficult. It’s a lot more crowded—and the examiners at the patent and trademark office are very particular about how you describe the goods and services. It used to be you could describe them generally—for example, ‘health care.’ But now, there are so many trademarks in the health care field that ‘health care’ broadly won’t be good enough. It’s much more difficult.”
But through all those years, what’s most rewarding for Casey hasn’t changed: It’s the problem solving and the service he provides to his clients. “You need to really care about helping people. You need to know the businesses that you’re dealing with; you need to put yourself in their shoes and try to anticipate their needs and counsel them. That’s priority one: Be a people person. And remember that in IP, there’s almost always a solution to a problem—the key is to find it.”