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Influential Lawyers-Michelle Marriott

Erise IP

michellemarriottMany American legal doctrines are a century old or more, but Michelle Marriott’s field changes every few months.

As an attorney with Erise IP, she specializes in representing tech clients in intellectual property and patent cases. Because technology changes as quickly as an iPhone updates, so does the law surrounding it.

“It’s not 100-year-old legal doctrines,” Marriott said. “Some of them are well established, but I would say every six months we get an opinion either from the federal circuit or Supreme Court that will dramatically impact the work that we’re doing. That’s exciting on top of the tech aspect.”

At Erise in Kansas City, Marriott’s client list is a who’s who of the tech world: Apple, Garmin, Sony, Ubisoft to name a few. The evolving nature of the IP law field also suits her inquisitive nature.

“Almost every case I’m working on has a moment where you have an issue and it’s just not settled and there’s some kind of novel argument you want to make or wish there’d be more law on and there will be an opinion that comes out and addresses it squarely,” Marriott said.

Despite her expertise, Marriott took a non-traditional path to get there. Many attorneys in the field have engineering or science backgrounds, which can be useful when dealing with scientific or technological concepts. But Marriott earned bachelor’s degrees in advertising and business from the University of Missouri. After graduating, she quickly realized that she wouldn’t find those fields entirely fulfilling. She realized her business and journalism skills including strategic planning, client services and writing could easily be adapted to law, though.

After earning her law degree from Vanderbilt University, she worked at Baker Botts in Dallas before making her way to Kansas City and Erise. She also served as a clerk to Judge Duane Benton both on the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and the Missouri Supreme Court.

In October, Erise attorneys won a case on appeal against Uniloc, a company that has been described in some circles as a patent troll. The company is the second most active patent litigator in the U.S., according to Law360, and filed 87 claims of patent infringement during 2016. Erise’s team, including Marriott, represented Sega, Ubisoft, Cambium Learning and Kofax — videogame companies Uniloc had accused of infringing on its patent covering a try-and-buy software registration system.

Uniloc had defended its so-called ‘216 patent for many years, sometimes referred to as “the patent that wouldn’t die.” Marriott’s victory not only won the case for her clients, but also signaled her ability to accomplish something no other attorney had done, and set a precedent that could impact future patent claims overall.

Most often, though, Marriott tries to resolve cases before they go to trial. Cases that are resolved out of court get less publicity, but it pays off in client satisfaction, she said.

“Those aren’t things that get a lot of press but those are things that get you loyal clients,” Marriott said. “You’re doing the best for your clients when you find a way to win a case in four months versus three years.”